Mayor says she’s been ‘more than’ patient on Quay St works
UPDATE 11am: Rockhampton Regional Mayor Margaret Strelow said at a press conference this morning that council's civil operation's standard procedure is to provide at least two weeks' notice to residents and businesses prior to the commencement of a major project.
"Communication in regards to Quay Street construction commenced on October 2 with business and property owners, and a further meeting was convened with Denham Street business owners on October 7," she said.
UPDATE 9.10am: ROCKHAMPTON Regional Mayor Margaret Strelow has defended council's position on redevelopment works on Quay St.
"Council has been more than consultative and more than patient," Cr Strelow said.
"The CBD working group had a private viewing of the plans a week before they even went out to the broader community for consultation.
"Remember that Council had been planning to totally reconstruct Quay Street anyway. There would have been a disruption no matter the eventual design.
"We will continue to work with this group of building owners to try to answer as many of their concerns as we can. But the wider community has a fundamentally different point of view. Consultation does not mean that everybody gets things exactly the way they want it.
"The vast majority of people are supportive of what we doing.
"There will be an election in March if individuals have a different point of view they are free to exercise that at the ballot box."
Cr Strelow said the Rockhampton region is moving on from the issue.
"We have been dragged down by negativity long enough. We are hungry to embrace a new and dynamic lifestyle. We want the kinds of facilities we've seen in cities elsewhere. We want to be a part of tomorrow not stuck in yesterday," Cr Strelow said.
"And the buildings that front Quay St will be prime beneficiaries.
"These people are so set in the past that when I mentioned that Council would be installing fibre along Quay Street to permit high-speed Internet I was told they didn't want it!
"This is a crossroads. A point in time at which we choose the future or the past. This Council has set its face firmly forward and this redevelopment and the wider Smart City project are simply right for our times."
OCT 21: ROCKHAMPTON Regional Council may be facing legal action over the Quay St redevelopment if they do not appropriately address concerns from the area's stakeholders.
Cyril Thomasson, Bruce Woods and Mark Woods yesterday said they were waiting on council to respond to their requests before making any decisions on their next move, but said seeking an injunction was the final resort.
Work, which was scheduled to commence yesterday, was delayed on Monday for almost two weeks after a last-minute meeting between the section's stakeholders and key council players.
Following the meeting the council conceded to reduce road closure times for construction from up to ten months to three months and was given a letter detailing the concerns from the area's 20 plus stakeholders, which is still to be responded to.
The road is the first phase of a multi-million dollar development, backed by State funding, to reinvigorate the riverfront area.
The trio, who together own a significant section of the heritage listed Quay St, yesterday expressed their disappointment and frustration with council's approach to the redevelopment.
Their largest issues with the plan included the "shared space" nature of the design, the loss of immediate access car parks, the placement of trees in front of heritage facades, gardens and most significantly the lack of appropriate stakeholder consultation.
They said businesses in the area would like to see construction delayed until January 2, in an effort to ensure the design is "done right" with competitive process, and without throwing the $15 million State Government grant into question.
"Why is there such a big rush for the project? The State Government can ear-mark that money and it can be spent in January after the Christmas festivities," Cyril said.
"There was a six month consultation period on the Mt Archer track and yet a six week one to spend $20 million; so there is a hell of a hurry for some reason, we just want it done right."
The three men said the removal of car parking spaces was a huge concern for the viability of their businesses.
They said additional spaces put onto other streets would be of no benefit when localised parks in the immediate area were necessary to service their buildings.In concern for their neighbours, the men said the financial impacts the current project would have on Lee Turnbull's Criterion Hotel would be devastating, due to the lack of car parks over the "busiest period of the year" and the inability to hold the annual New Year's street party.
The men said while they were supportive of the project and thankful money was being spent at their doorsteps, they would be thrilled if the developments were reduced to fixing the road and footpaths.
But Mayor Margaret Strelow said council was always going to rebuild Quay St, and concessions had already been made to the design to alleviate concerns.
She said parking would definitely be lost out the front of Quay St, but would be made up for on Denham St and the block between William and Derby Sts; whilst the trees on the path had been reduced in size and spaced in a way that would no longer block the facades.
"It's long overdue... we just plan to do an excellent redevelopment rather than a reconstruction on the existing alignment," she said.
"Two years ago council was the punching bag, we were being hauled over the coals for not rebuilding Quay St.
"We are doing it now and doing it to a design that has overwhelming public support.
"This is the development that will put Rockhampton on the map... the decision to proceed with the work has been taken."
She said a response to the stakeholders was expected to be ready today.