MIRRA Report September
After an AGM which saw all office bearers re-elected unopposed, the Magnetic Island Residents and Ratepayers Association September meeting began with about 40 in attendance, and in the presence of Scott Stewart, Member for Townsville and Minister for Lands, Mayor Jenny Hill, Deputy Mayor Mark Molachino, and Councillor Ann-Maree Greaney.
It was hoped that with all the key players in attendance, there could at last be a satisfactory resolution to the long-running disaster of the condition of the Radical Bay Road, which services the beaches at Arthur Bay, Florence Bay, and Radical Bay.
Unfortunately, in a meeting which was smothered by contradictions, claims and counter claims no resolution was achieved. Worse still, not one of those politicians present thought it significant to mention that the road would be closed immediately, on Monday, and they must all have known this salient fact.
The Mayor handed out an announcement that the Radical Bay Road was to be closed “for environmental reasons” but Scott Stewart said it was being closed as it was too dangerous. Asked about his comments to the meeting in April 2019 that the State government could pay for the road but the Council would have to do the work, he claimed that the Radical Bay Road did not qualify for funding after all. There was much discussion about the division between National Parks and Unallocated State Land and Charlie McColl explained the history of the Scout Movement’s lease over Florence Bay and its reversion to National Parks. Much argument ensued, but Mr Stewart was not to be moved from his decision to close the road. He did, however, concede that the land would remain USL, so that if a developer was found for the freehold land at Radical Bay it would be available for a road. Why that developer would build a road for the public to access Arthur and Florence Bays was not addressed by Mr Stewart. He was asked about his press release announcing the closure which said that the road would be maintained for emergency vehicles, fire engines, ambulances, and police, to use, asking if it was to be maintained for those, why couldn’t the public use it? Mr Stewart denied that they would be maintaining the road for emergency vehicles but couldn’t explain why he had said in his press release that they would. How emergency vehicles will access those bays was not addressed.
A large aerial photograph of the island was displayed for reasons known only to the politicians. It showed the Radical Bay Road clearly marked as a road and named but showed it was not on a road reserve. Unfortunately it also showed that the Arcadia/Horseshoe Bay Road is only about 50 per cent on the road reserve but, so far at least, there is no talk of shutting that off.
All in all, an unedifying display of double talk, avoidance and deliberate misinformation.
The meeting moved on to the closure of the school pool to the public which is causing problems for many. Neither Scott Stewart nor the Mayor seemed aware of the cause of the closure, but the President explained that it had been closed as the changeroom facilities had been declared unfit for use by the disabled although the pool is fitted with a winch for disabled use. The pool is owned by the State Government and operated by the Council which funds the school to allow public use. The Mayor and Scott Stewart agreed that they would meet to sort out what was needed and resolve the problem. Patty Winn, after whose late husband the pool was named, said it was vital that the pool should reopen for community use, since the community had built it for that purpose.
The manager of the bus service, Steven Lane, is in the process of rescheduling the timetable and routes to correct the connection problems with the ferry service. However, Gary McGill, owner of the Arcadia Hotel/Motel said the proposed relocation of the bus stop to Hayles Avenue without consultation with the hotel, would make it very difficult for tourists to get from the bus stop to the motel. Cr Greaney agreed to a meeting with Gary McGill to resolve the problem.
The perennial problem of the overcrowded carpark at the terminal was discussed. Cameron Turnbull has met with Chris Sykes who said we should sort it out ourselves, but what is needed is supervision, the President said. Not fining, but some sort of entry ticket to enable identification of those who leave their cars for weeks, even months, in the carpark. Mirra had proposed a feasibility study of the options to fix the problem which was refused by TMR, but Scott Stewart said he would look at the options with TMR as soon as possible and get back to MIRRA with the answers.
Dump spots for campers are desperately needed. Cr Greaney spoke of the difficulties with them on the mainland, where people dumped all kinds of waste in them which stopped them working. Thus it was proposed that a dump station be built between the dump and the sewage station on the West Point Road, so that dump staff could see and supervise how it was used. The Mayor and Cr Greaney thought it was a good idea and will pursue it. As far as illegal camping goes, there was some confusion as the council thought that the freecamping site, hipcamping.com, was illegal but that doesn’t appear to be so.
However the meeting pointed out that the illegal camping made the recruitment of a Compliance Officer even more urgent. Cr Greaney said they were recruiting, but agreed that the duties on the island were different to the requirements on the mainland and she would adjust the job advertisement accordingly,
In response to questioning, she said the Council had not received a planning application for a caravan park on the old horse ranch site at Horseshoe Bay.
The Picnic Bay public toilets were discussed, and Cr Greaney emphasised the parlous overcrowding of the Picnic Bay water treatment plant and said the Council were designing a Sewer Strategy for the Island to overcome this problem. In recent regulations for reef preservation, the freshwater produced by the plant cannot be released into the ocean, which is another problem.
It was suggested that Council apply to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation for a grant to pay for the restructuring necessary as they have millions of dollars available for reef protection.
The meeting was concerned about the introduction of e-scooters on the island and Cr Greaney said that there were problems at first on the mainland, but after six months people had got used to them and were using them more responsibly.
Senior Constable Brendan Nugent said that Island police would be watching out for infringements, pointing out that the laws were the same for all recreational vehicles – they must stay on the footpath, wear a helmet, not use a mobile phone, and no drink driving.
It was pointed out that the signage on Gabul Way would have to be changed and Cr Greaney agreed to arrange that.
The submission from Jarrod Jeffery and photos of the council trucks being loaded on the barge relatively empty was passed to Cr Greaney for action.