Council agrees Rex Smeal Park needs irrigation system


Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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Council agrees that Rex Smeal Park needs some irrigation but nothing has been committed as of yet. Image: Katie Purling
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Douglas Shire Council has acknowledged that Rex Smeal Park needs an irrigation system, however, there is no commitment at this stage.

In a statement to Newsport, a Council spokesman said Council officers are investigating potential options for irrigating Rex Smeal Park, but have not allocated sufficient operational or capital works funding to complete this project.

“Council agrees an irrigation system at Rex Smeal Park would help improve the space, however, at this stage nothing has been formally committed.

“This information was sent to the Douglas Shire Ratepayers’ Association (DSRA) after they requested information relating to Rex Smeal Park.”

The matter came to the fore this week when the DSRA posted the following on their website under the headline: REX SMEAL PARK TO FINALLY GET WATER!!

“Council has just advised that they agree with the DSRA (and most of the community and visitors to the area), that Rex Smeal Park needs irrigation! Council will now proceed to determine the best irrigation options for both Rex Smeal Park and Market Park. The infrastructure costs will be to some extent mitigated by no longer needing to bring in watering trucks every weekend to hose down the dust prior to the Sunday Markets. A bit slow in coming, but welcome news … thank you Douglas Shire Council!”

Appalling condition

The president of the DSRA, Sylvia Healy, said the DSRA had brought to the DSC’s attention the issue of the long-standing, appalling condition of Rex Smeal Park during the dry months.

“But to credit DSRA with being responsible for the move to irrigate the park is a step too far,” she said.

“I see that Douglas Shire Mayor Michael Kerr has posted on his Facebook page that there are no funds (operating or capital) to irrigate Rex Smeal Park. This begs the question: why would Council use resources to investigate irrigation systems (whether a spear bore or reticulated system using recycled water), if there was no intention to irrigate the Park?

“Mayor Kerr also stated that there were no funds in the current operating or capital budgets, however, a report with an option for the purchase of land by DSC for an RV Park is being considered which may have significant operating and capital budget implications and we don’t believe these costs are in the budget,” said Healy.

Healy said budgets can and are often amended.

“It was not unreasonable for the DSRA to determine from the response provided by Council that there is an intent to irrigate the Park. Perhaps the objection is more that the DSRA brought the knowledge of the current investigations into irrigating the park into the public arena, and this may place some pressure on the Council to deliver.

“We make no apologies for this. Perhaps it may prompt a reconsideration of Council spending on other unfunded projects,” said Healy.

Budget workshops

Mayor Kerr said the project is certainly on Council’s radar and has been discussed previously at budget workshops. 

“Council would eventually like to see the grey water coming from the sewage plant treated to a point that it can be used for irrigation throughout the community.

“However, the water priority of this Council is to ensure we have a constant supply of clean drinking water for the community. No doubt this will again be an item of discussion for the next council budget,” said Mayor Kerr.

Realtor Mark Flinn, Selling Principal Ray White Port Douglas, said it would be welcomed if Rex Smeal Park was irrigated.

“It has always been one of the most popular areas to take family and friends to watch the sunsets. I also walk past it most mornings when we tackle the walking track around Flagstaff hill; it has some of the best water views in Port Douglas. 

“It is a massive tourism asset and I feel that this is timely now with borders opening and to be able to have green grass in this area.

“Having my new Ray White office across the road I also walk across there frequently while on the phone and often think it would be nice to have green grass in this amazing spot. I think it will be great for all the other businesses at this end of town as well and for tourists, weddings and for all the functions that are held there to be able to enjoy the green grassed area all year long,” said Flinn.

Rex Smeal Park is located on the peninsula of Port Douglas and is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike to take in the daily sunset. With views of the rainforest-clad Daintree mountain ranges, the Coral Sea, Low Isles, Snapper Isles and the inlet, it's the perfect place to picnic.  


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