Hands off our park!
By FRANK WILKIE
PEOPLE power looks to have scuttled three boat ramps and 70 carparks planned for public reserve at Noosaville after residents pulled key councillors onboard their "Save Chaplin Park'' campaign.
The proposal was one of a range of options in a draft Noosa Council report commissioned to address a perceived lack of boat access at peak times to the A-rated river.
Councillors Vivien Griffen, Peter McGregor, Bob Jarvis and Frank Pardon have publicly stated their opposition to the plan after the residents rallied and voiced concerns.
Residents believe the project would rob Noosa of a popular park and potentially increase overcrowding and hazards on the river, described as the busiest in Queensland.
Residents gathered again at the park on Friday to urge people to write letters to the council before the cut-off date for submissions, November 3.
The draft report also proposes upgrading some of the six other boat ramps in the Tewantin-Noosa area and the two at Boreen Point, and suggests building a new facility near the ferry at Moorindil Street.
"I want to state categorically that there has been no decision made on this report,'' Community and Works Chair, Ms Griffin told the crowd.
"But I do want to say that I do not support putting a boat trailer park in Chaplin Park. This is an important open space and we should cherish and protect our open spaces.
"We must consider what are the limits for our waterways.
"How many more boats do we want on our river when the Noosa River is already the busiest river in Queensland?''
Mr McGregor said the campaign had also drawn attention to the park's lack of public facilities (seating, shade, barbeques), which are issues he would like to see addressed.
"This is a great recreational area that we must preserve and I'd even like to see Chaplin Park made better,'' Mr McGregor said.
"Keep up the people power. If you don't tell us no one will notice.''
Noosa MP Glen Elmes said the park must be preserved and other options for limited upgrades considered.
"But this is the busiest river in Queensland and I agree with Vivien. There comes a point when you have to put up the 'house full' sign,'' Mr Elmes said.
Noosa Yacht and Rowing Club commodore John Last said the boat ramps would empty power boats into an area used five days a week by a total of 2500 learn-to-sail students each year.
"Safety is our paramount concern and this is going to put power boats smack in the middle of where these kids are learning to sail,'' the commodore said.
"We don't mind powerboats on the river, we just want it to be organised.''
The protest attracted former member for Noosa Bruce Davidson who said the central issue was one of heritage.
"This park is well-used and one of the last open spaces by the river where you can play cricket and kick a football around,'' Mr Davidson said.
"I'm not opposed to boat ramps. Noosa's heritage is also based on fishing and boating and it was appropriate that need was identified.''
He said he favoured upgrading the Tewantin boat ramp and some of the less formal access points off Hilton Terrace, near Doonella Bridge and on Weyba Creek.
Chaplin Park was named in honour of Frederick George Chaplin, second cousin to the silent movie comic Charlie Chaplin, who served as a Noosa Councillor from the 1950s.
Send submissions to: Noosa River Boat Ramps Investigation Works Directorate, Noosa Council, PO Box 141, Tewantin, 4565