Fury as council plans to close Australia's best caravan park
FURY has erupted over plans to close the Sunshine Coast's busiest caravan park which does not have a weekend beachfront site vacancy until April next year.
A petition opposing the move has collected 1000 signatures in just 36 hours.
The park's 34 sites are tightly held in peak times by families that have been visiting the spot since before it became a formal camping area 30 years ago.
It is fully booked from now all the way through the Christmas holidays.
Sunshine Coast Council's Place Making Mooloolaba planning exercise envisages a coastal walkway connecting Mooloolaba with Alexandra Headland and Maroochydore, meaning the closure of the northern section of Mooloolaba Beach Holiday Park that sits on the beachfront opposite Venning St.
Public comment closes on September 30 with a final decision expected by Christmas.
Deputy Mayor and Mooloolaba councillor Chris Thompson said he had been surprised not to have heard a stronger reaction to the proposal before now.
He said the matter was out for the second round of consultation and he needed to hear community views in the form of written submissions.
The caravan park sits on Crown road reserve with the council the designated trustee of the lease that expires mid next year.
"If people don't like it (the precinct plans) they need to tell us," Cr Thompson said.
He said there was a lot of nostalgia attached to the camping ground which he acknowledged was probably the best located in Australia.
"But it's a limited site with no room for additional growth," Cr Thompson said.
The park generates $300,000 annually in revenue to council.
Accountant Mal Revie of Benowa on the Gold Coast who has visited the park 14 times describes the council plans as a "load of rubbish", particularly the proposal to put the artificial rock pool on the beach.
What do you think should happen with the caravan site?
This poll ended on 25 September 2015.
Keep the caravan park the way it is
Turn it into an open space
Extend the caravan park so other tourists can book a spot
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
He loves the community connection staying in the caravan park provides, saying it's something that's been lost from the neighbourhoods in which we live.
And Mr Revie warned that Mooloolaba shopkeepers were fearful of the loss of a permanent tourism presence in the park and the million dollars in revenue it generates for them.
Karina Baumann, whose husband Tim has known no other holiday, has been overwhelmed by the immediate response to the petition she launched after becoming aware of the proposal two days ago.
She said support has come from park users, businesses and local residents who didn't want to lose an asset of such iconic status.
"We think this proposal is grossly unjust, unfair and unwarranted," Ms Baumann said.
"There are ample other changes that council could do to existing beachfront land (for example, build a multi-storey car park off Brisbane Rd and revamp the existing beachfront carpark).
There is already ample parkland in between the esplanade units and the beachfront (the stretch where the Steve Irwin statue is) that is essentially wasted unused space."
She said she understood the council's desire to plan for the 21st century but said that did not mean iconic links to the past had to be sacrificed.
Cr Tim Dwyer said he was not convinced planners had considered enough options.
He wants more thought given to the area between the beach and the Esplanade which takes in the lower road, carpark and green space.
Cr Dwyer said it might be possible to reach an infrastructure agreement tied to yield-based outcomes with whoever ultimately redeveloped the Brisbane Rd carpark.
That agreement could include relocation of beachfront parking to Brisbane Rd and contribution towards the revamp of what he considers to be a dysfunctional solution to traffic, parking and open space on the foreshore.
COUNCIL'S PLAN FOR FORESHORE
"THE northern foreshore parkland is established on a level platform where the existing caravan park is situated.
"The removal of the caravan park opens up the cove and rocky beach to enhanced public use and provides a key opportunity to create a Great Ocean Walk that connects to and ultimately around Alexandra Headland.
"The northern foreshore provides a strong, healthy and active recreation and fitness role and function. The area caters for walkers, joggers, boot camps and swimmers in the form of the ocean walk, stair climbs, outdoor fitness equipment zone, active lawn area and tidal pool.
"Children are encouraged to get active and climb the challenging adventure play structures, play on the flexible kick around lawns and explore the natural rock pools.
"Following a workout, relaxing stroll or morning with the kids, the Cove Kiosk is a great place to rest for a coffee or snack and enjoy the striking natural outlook.
"There is potential for the Cove Kiosk to provide a social enterprise, offering unique educational opportunities such as disadvantaged and youth training, employment and vocational training opportunities and performing a park caretaker and custodian function."
Read the full plan and have your say at Sunshine Coast Regional Council's website.