LETTER | Ideas to secure and improve Port Douglas' future

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

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A Foreigner’s Lament 

No, I am not an overseas’ visitor. I am a resident of Melbourne but since 1988. I have visited Port Douglas regularly. In 2004, I became a ratepayer and in 2008 completed construction of our “home away from home” which, ever since, entices me 3-4 times per year. 

But I feel like a foreigner. I cannot vote though I am a ratepayer. I am vitally interested in the future of the town and believe I and others like me can and should be heard. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love the place but it is looking old and tired. It needs to be rejuvenated. Here are four ideas. 


Macrossan Street 
First impressions are always important. The drive along Davidson Street is pleasant enough but then you turn left … uneven footpaths with a patchwork of paving, a hotchpotch of trees and shrubs, many struggling to survive, garden beds devoid of greenery, generally unappealing shop fronts etc 

The main street of Airlie Beach is a recent example of what can be done. So why can’t we? Don’t say money! Let’s create the vision. Then we have something to sell to the property owners and businesses that will benefit from it as well as the broader community. 

Idea One:
Rejuvenate the public realm of Macrossan Street and incentivize property owners/businesses to improve their shop fronts.

Lagoon/Marina redevelopment
The town cannot continue to survive and prosper unless it can attract tourists all year round. A lagoon with water play features is essential as part of the redevelopment of the waterfront. So why is it not happening? Again, I will be told money!

What an opportunity the proposed redevelopment of the Marina offers to facilitate delivery of the lagoon.
  
Instead of the Council saying no to five stories, it should say yes, provided it comes with the delivery of a community benefit such as a significant contribution to the lagoon.

It is the public/private partnership which is successfully being used in Melbourne to deliver community benefits that a Council might not otherwise do. But it has to be commercial for the developer. At five levels as proposed it would not destroy the character of Port Douglas.

Idea Two:
Engage with the owner of the Marina to facilitate an outcome which would deliver the most significant urban renewal project that Port Douglas has seen since Sheraton.

Rejuvenate the 4 Mile beach area
In my area of 4 Mile beach, there are many single detached dwellings which have reached or are reaching knockdown status and make no contribution to the character of the area. But who is going to pay $500-$600,000 just to construct one dwelling which could, in any event, occupy the same footprint as two dwellings?

My house, which is one of a pair, could not be built today because the lot area of 870m2 is less than the required 1,000 m2 for two dwellings.

No one has said to me that my house and its pair are not in keeping with the area.

Idea Three:
Lower the lot area for two dwellings to 800m2


Water security

It is almost laughable if it was not so serious that in a town, where the rainfall is often measured in metres reached Level 3 water restrictions. We think of Port Douglas as being set in a lush tropical green landscape, a landscape which we cannot water. Port Douglas cannot be a tourist town where you cannot water the very assets that give it, its point of distinction, its character.

Idea Four:

Lobby State and Federal Government to deliver water security to Port Douglas


I feel disenfranchised. I feel helpless but I want to help. I want to at least have a discussion on a vision that will deliver a sustainable future for a town that can and should be the premier tourist destination in Australia.

John Cicero, Port Douglas/Melbourne 

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