Submission On Esplanade Tourism Master Plan To Fraser Coast Regional Council

Esplanade TourismThe Chief Executive Officer,
Fraser Coast Regional Council,

Dear Madam,

Please consider this my submission on the above draft plan. Your survey, so far as it is relevant, is appended.

This submission addresses only a few of the many issues raised in the plan, given the limited time, but does seek to make comment on some of the more important ones.

Personal background

It may assist to advise that I have lived in Hervey Bay since 1976. I lived in Torquay/Urangan for 10 years, and in Point Vernon since then. I have worked in Pialba, Scarness, and Torquay (where I presently work). I was an active member (and committee member) of the Hervey Bay Sailing Club for about 25 years. I have therefore some reasonably extensive knowledge of the area, its topography, and its history.

Pialba

Main St – foreshore promenade connection

I support this proposal, and indeed have been suggesting it for years. It needs to be done sympathetically having regard to Popp’s Trees, but will add significantly to the attraction of the Main St shopping precinct. Indeed this could be usefully combined with an information centre. Such a centre would be very useful for tourists who may not stop at the present one, as they seek to establish themselves in town first.   (Perhaps utilise the Memorial Hall for this? It would save the building – as it should be saved – and save a lot of money too.)

Youth adventure park

This is a good idea, but why does it have to be here? The whole plan assumes there will be pressure on the Esplanade, and it may well enhance the plan and the city if we site some facilities and attractions away from the Esplanade. An adventure park does not have any particular need to be located near the sea or beach. While I am not supportive of the FCRC plan to establish a new sports complex at Nikenbah, if they are determined to do it, this opens up the possibility of siting other things at the existing sports complex. An adventure park could easily be sited here, and would not need the destruction of more vegetation to achieve it. It would also be near the swimming pool complex, which is a natural fit.

If a recreational site can be made of this, it can incorporate other elements, including perhaps an arboretum, and a measured running track through the trees. See my comments below on the proposal for one at Torquay.

Helicopter site

I think this is a short sighted idea. It will create safety and noise issues, and unnecessarily complicates planning for the precinct. It too could be sited at the old sports complex.

Scarness

Rotunda

The plan (p 34) states that the rotunda is out of place. Why? What is the basis for this suggestion? It is a charming little building, probably built pre World War 2, and is part of Hervey Bay’s limited history, echoing as it does something of Scarness’s past glory. There is no need to remove it. Surely any development (like the suggested change sheds) can be designed and sited around this building? Indeed the change sheds could be designed to echo the style of the rotunda. Sure, its architecture isn’t modern, but neither are the proposed change sheds, judging from the plan illustrations. (For that matter, neither is Notre Dame Cathedral, and it was still attracting plenty of tourists last time I was there.)

It is also the perfect structure and location to facilitate weddings, as the plan seeks to do. And it can be used for band performances – I have played there myself as part of Hervey Bay City Musicians, and it works well.

Jetty use: a new proposal – encourage visiting yachts

I have no problem with activating jetty use, but remember it is a jetty. And jetties are for boats. Why not add some facilities to assist and encourage visiting yachts to moor off-shore and dingy in to Scarness for provisioning, and generally enjoying what the precinct has to offer? This need not be expensive. Perhaps a floating pontoon at the end of the jetty, and maybe some mooring points off the beach. The jetty/pontoon should be lit.

There are already a small number of yachts mooring off the beach for short visits, partly to avoid the high cost of harbour mooring fees, but partly no doubt because it is a charming place to be, and a good anchorage in south-easterlies, especially for shallower drafted vessels. And it is hard to think of anything that would add more to the ambience of the sea view than a cluster of boats moored close by.

Torquay

Running loop and proposed boardwalk

While I might support a running section if it can be accommodated without further vegetation destruction, I am totally opposed to yet another beachside boardwalk. If council has officers with any significant historic knowledge, they will know that we have had a succession of boardwalks built (both at Torquay and at Scarness) at great expense, which have been destroyed within a few years.   How much more ratepayer money do we need to waste before Council joins the dots?   The proposed boardwalk (assuming it will front the beach) will not last, but what it will do is cause the destruction of more vegetation in its construction, and will put the frontal dune system at risk. See my comments below.

As mentioned above, a running track could be accommodated at the old Tavistock sports area as part of a revamp of that site.

Sight lines from Tavistock St and extension of Nielsen Park

These proposals necessarily entail the removal of more vegetation. This precinct contains the last of the remnant vegetation, and the best of the fontal dune section. It should be preserved for two reasons: first, because it is so unique, and a part of the old Hervey Bay; and secondly because it will protect the foreshore against the inevitable weather events which will cause so much havoc in other areas. There are already plenty of sight lines, and no evident shortage of green space.

It is appropriate here to mention the risk of “saving” the foreshore with rock walls. It is notoriously difficult to sustain beaches against rock walls, as Scarness continues to prove. A beach accessible at high tide can only be maintained by continual sand replenishment and pushing. This is an incredible on-going expense. Nature will do this work for free if you protect your frontal dunes and vegetation. That means keep the vegetation, don’t build walkways, limit new structures, and don’t build rock walls.

Tennis court

I oppose removal or relocation of the tennis court. No case has been made out for that. It is well utilised, and does not disrupt the other uses in that locality.

I work opposite this court and so know that area very well. There are already plenty of grassed areas. I frequently have lunch beside the court. On most days there would only be half a dozen people using the area from the court to the Hervey Bay Sailing Club for lunch or other recreation. This in an area that could fit in a thousand. When northerlies are blowing it is deserted, as it is too uncomfortable to sit there now that the council has removed the protective vegetation.

There is simply no compelling reason to remove the court, and the cost is not warranted.

Landscape management

I note that your various scenarios provide for seaviews, or limited seaviews. None seem to cater for a natural environment, where vegetation might encourage birds, possums, and other fauna. Does no one speak for these? They too are an important part of our town and its attractiveness to visitors and residents alike. Possibly that may mean very limited seaviews for a few metres but one can always walk a short distance to the next cleared area and enjoy the view from there.

Transport issues

I use the Esplanade virtually daily, to and from work, and as part of my work and recreation, and have done so for years. I know it well.

A few years ago, I was finding it frequently difficult to get out of 3rd gear. Now I am often finding it difficult to get into 3rd gear. Be it increased tourist usage or an aging population, or both, the traffic calming is happening automatically. It can be frustrating, especially when one is busy, but there are few alternatives.

There are no convenient parallel routes. Scarborough/Freshwater/Campbell/Cypress streets are narrow and littered with give way points. Torquay Rd is busy with other traffic, Torquay Terrace has the Torquay School, and both necessitate getting back to the Esplanade at awkward intersections. Boat Harbour Drive is a significant detour for all but long trips, and has the same issues for returning to the Esplanade.

The recent work at the Tavistock intersection (at no doubt huge expense) has the issue that it has eliminated the slip lane, so eastward traffic turning right stops everyone behind until there is a break in oncoming traffic.

While it doesn’t appear to be one of your options, I submit that the existing arrangement with the current speed limits is about as good as one can do, in fairness to all users of the Esplanade. Remember, some of us have no choice but to work there. We can always fiddle a bit more as time goes on.

 

Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

David Lewis
11 September 2015