GOING UNDER: WRA’s David Gillman, Ross Plowman and Tony Moscato discuss the idea of underground car parking in town.
GOING UNDER: WRA’s David Gillman, Ross Plowman and Tony Moscato discuss the idea of underground car parking in town.

Airlie under ground

DR DAVID Gillman, president of the Whitsunday Ratepayers Association, has long seen underground car parking as a solution to Airlie's ever-growing parking problem.

With the community's attention turned to issues of height restrictions and development and the future look and feel of Airlie Beach, Dr Gillman said now was the perfect time to discuss the ongoing parking issue.

"The more parking that's above ground, the more you push the buildings up into the sky," he said.

"We've got to get the cars out of sight so that we maintain our more attractive streetscape and we've got to keep everything at a scale which people prefer."

Dr Gillman said that the trouble with towns like Airlie Beach was the fluctuations in population brought on by tourism.

"You always have to go for a huge oversupply (of parking), otherwise you can't accommodate for holiday periods," he said.

"And because we're going to get an international airport, the numbers are going to have to be consistently higher."

In an ideal future with cars parking not on the street but underground, Dr Gillman envisages an Airlie Beach with more trees, more vegetation, and a more friendly and open area for tourists to wander around in.

But there's a catch - underground car parking in the centre of town is also technically "underwater", which increases the cost.

"The economic realists have pointed out to us that's going to be goddamn expensive," he said.