Markets set for upgrade
"BASICALLY a relief and a feeling that common sense had prevailed” - this is how Allan Gravelle felt when he heard Whitsunday Regional Council had decided the Airlie Beach foreshore markets would stay put.
The announcement comes after controversial talks in 2016 which suggested the markets be moved.
Chairperson of the Whitsunday Lions Club, Mr Gravelle has been a prominent voice in the fight to keep the markets in their current location.
"I have to commend the council because the councillors and the mayor listened to us and it was great to go and speak to them and explain to them what was going on and have them understand that there's no greater use of community land, which the foreshore is, than seeing the community turn out in their thousands to use it,” he said.
To Suzette Pelt, president of Save Our Foreshore, the initial idea to have the markets shifted was "stupid”.
"Our interest is public land and our public foreshores and our first role was to support the community markets people because nobody knows the markets like they do and this plan came out of nowhere,” she said.
Engagement and marketing co-ordinator of Whitsunday Regional Council, Joanne Hennessey, said the overall response to the news was very positive.
"I think we've definitely met the community's expectation,” she said.
On Saturday, WRC set up a market stall to encourage feedback from the last public consultation and provide information on the Airlie Beach Foreshore Revitalisation project.
Ms Hennessey said now council had decided to keep the markets in place, the next step was planning for a master plan for the area from the Sailing Club through to the lagoon.
"The reason for this is to make sure any upgrades or improvements we do in this area are reflected across the whole foreshore,” she said.
"For the markets, we've committed to keep their location here so the improvements will be to things like the state of the ground, the cover (a lot of it has worn away); maybe rejuvenate the green spaces, improving facilities like electricity, water access, lights.”
Ms Hennessey said in coming months, council would look at road and parking upgrades expected to be completed by mid-July 2017.
"We've got the funding in the budget to do that.”