The future of the Airlie Beach foreshore and its markets is one step closer to being decided after an extended community consultation ended last week.
A proposal will now be collated and presented to the Foreshore Revitalisation Project Control Group before a brief is made and presented to Whitsunday Regional Council where the next step will ultimately be decided.
Chairman of the Whitsunday Lions Market Alan Gravelle said they were happy to see the process take its time.
“We favour a slow and steady approach,” he said.
“A slow and steady approach will be better and cause the least disruption. The timing is up to Council – as long as we get to keep the markets running in a safe and efficient manner.
“We’ve done our own survey and are fairly confident we have a very accurate indication of what the public want.”
Mr Gravelle said consequently their position had not changed.
“We want to see the market stay where it is. We want to see the foreshore upgrade take place in stages,” he said.
“There is no need to move the market to achieve what they’re trying to achieve.
“The critical point is the parking and that we have enough store holder access and customer parking. It’s paramount it be retained.”
Mr Gravelle said with the informal parking area being made into a green zone, it would be a park for most of the time but retained as overflow and event parking.
Mayor Andrew Willcox said the proposal would be amended to reflect the community feedback with several options likely to be presented as the next stage of the consultation process.
“The proposal incorporates the transformation of the foreshore area into a purpose built market place to support local and visitor trading, draw greater patronage of domestic and international visitors and provide an attractive open space for the community to enjoy,” he said.
“A number of new elements are proposed including sheltered picnic spaces, additional trees and palms, a stage area, bus terminal inclusive of storage space, public toilets, wider pathways and designated spaces for the market stalls.”
Cr Willcox said it was imperative that the area was improved for purposes such as increasing the region’s cruise ship market.
“Recent cruise ship statistics show that the average cruise ship passenger spends $154 during an onshore excursion so with 2000 passengers per boat and currently 40 cruises ships visiting our shores annually that is over $12 million being injected directly into our local economy,” Cr Willcox said.
He also said council was still open to exploring joint funding options with the Federal Government.