Stall holders will submit alternate plan
STALL holders at the Lions Airlie Beach Markets aren't impressed with the proposed loss of their beachfront location, banding together to fight back.
Formed in response to the foreshore revitilisation proposal, the Please Don't Move The Markets Committee met at the weekend to discuss its options.
Stall holder and committee member Kristel Taylor told the group they had met with Mayor Andrew Willcox and chief financial officer Matthew McGoldrick, submitting an impact statement signed by 118 stall holders.
The group was then asked to submit an alternate plan.
"We're going to put in, as best we can, a drawing of all the stalls. We're going to hold our position on the beach, we're going to draw what we believe is a win-win solution," Ms Taylor said.
She said this included a number of aspects of the original plan, such as wider paths and bus stops.
Ms Taylor said the alternate plan would see some definite changes however.
"We don't mind the park being improved but we're not happy about losing the car parking and we're not happy about being taken off the beach," she said.
"We basically proposed that, if you draw a line from the back gate (of the market area) pretty much straight across to the old bus shelter, everything (to the sailing club side) would remain car parking.
"Everything (to the market side) would be grass and therefore that would be the win- win."
Ms Taylor said some car parking would still be lost under the alternate plan.
"But, because there wouldn't be that turnaround (area), you would gain some extra spaces in a better designed car park," she said.
Whitsunday Lions Club member Allan Gravelle, who sits on the project steering committee, said he had spoken with town planners from RPS, who reported around half of respondents to their community consultation were against moving the markets.
The Lions are conducting their own consultation questionnaire however, reporting a vastly different result.
"And it's not even close: It's not 50-50, it's horrendously against moving the markets," he said.
"You would be lucky to see 1% of respondents ask for the markets to be moved."
Mr Gravelle said "maybe 20-30%" of people thought parking was adequate "but that is the parking we have
now being adequate, not what they're proposing".
With the markets bringing in around "50,000 people a year", Mr Gravelle said it was madness to move them.
"You can put together every other event in Airlie Beach and it doesn't even get to a fraction of that," he said.
The steering committee will meet again on July 4 to discuss the results of the consultation process, which is due to end tomorrow.
Save Our Foreshore has thrown its support behind the stall holders, with president Suzette Pelt attending the weekend meeting.
"Our interest is public land," she told those assembled.
"We will back what the markets want, what the stall holders want."
Ms Pelt suggested the gravel area, currently zoned as green space, could be used as event and overflow parking in the event it was to become park land.
No matter what happens, the markets will move temporarily to make way for development works.
Ms Taylor said they were not prepared to move further away from town, giving the example of the Whitsunday PCYC car park.
Instead, the group has suggested moving back to Fairy Tree Park, its original position, or closing the Esplanade between the roundabouts on Saturday mornings to host a street market.
This morning the stall holders will present a petition against the move to Deputy Mayor John Collins, with almost 1000 signatures.
WHAT THEY SAID
Kristel Taylor, market stall holder and Please Don't Move The Markets Committee member
Ms Taylor said they would submit an alternate plan to council which would retain their position on the foreshore.
The suggested plan would turn the concrete area adjacent the markets into grass, while the gravel area would become a car park.
An impact statement, signed by 118 stall holders, has been presented to the council.
With the markets required to move while development works are underway, at least temporarily, Ms Taylor suggested returning to Fairy Tree Park or hosting a street market on the esplanade.
Stall holders will this morning present a petition to the council opposing the move.
Allan Gravelle, Whitsunday Lions Club member and project steering committee member
Mr Gravelle said a survey conducted by the Whitsunday Lions showed overwhelming support for retaining the current market location, with a tiny fraction of respondents in favour of a move.
He said the markets were the second most frequently visited attraction in Airlie Beach, coming in close behind the lagoon.
Mr Gravelle said it was therefore a bad idea to move the markets.
Suzette Pelt, Save Our Foreshore president
Ms Pelt said the group fully supported the wishes of stall holders and would back them in their bid to retain their position.
Ms Pelt suggested using the gravel area as overflow and event parking if it were to be turned into park land.