Main street business owners speak out

COMMUNICATION IS KEY:  Mandy Gilsenan (the Beach Shak), Heidi Ward (Sushi and Catering Whitsunday) and Allan Molostic (Chemcoast Pharmacy) have been chosen by fellow main street business owners to liaise with the council during the main street upgrades.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY: Mandy Gilsenan (the Beach Shak), Heidi Ward (Sushi and Catering Whitsunday) and Allan Molostic (Chemcoast Pharmacy) have been chosen by fellow main street business owners to liaise with the council during the main street upgrades.

AIRLIE main street traders will now have a voice at Council after calling a meeting on Friday to discuss the problems arising from the street's construction upgrade. About 25 business owners and their employees attended the meeting with Whitsunday Regional Council's mayor Jennifer Whitney, new CEO Scott Waters, councillors Jan Clifford and Kevin Collins and community liaison officer John Powell.

Chemcoast pharmacy owner Allan Milostic said the reality of the upgrade was shaping up to be worse than expected in terms of loss of trade.

"Specific issues were raising their heads during the construction process that were affecting us, so we needed a conduit back to Council to deal with those," he said.

Mr Milostic said problems to date included parking, signage and dust.

"Parking was a massive one because we lost half our street almost immediately. Dust is a very specific one as well - I know it can't be avoided but I think more could be done to minimise the dust," he said.

Mayor Jennifer Whitney said she was sympathetic to the business owners' plight and suggested regular meetings between Council and a spokesperson from the main street business community. This resulted in the election of Mr Milostic and other business owners Heidi Ward (Sushi Whitsunday) and Mandy Gilsenan (The Beach Shack) to a committee and they will attend Council meetings on a regular basis.

Cr Whitney welcomed these appointments and said having feedback from the business community would be invaluable.

"They've got a real feel for it and they can bring the issues in a real perspective to us and also some suggestions and solutions. This should have happened years ago," she said.

Ms Ward said this course of action was very much about the business owners coming together to work with Council "to see how we can best get around all the problems and keep the tourists coming throughout the upgrade".

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