Prime parking space really pays off
Here is a riddle which might have some lovers of open space scratching their heads.
What green space is in great demand, might appear as a $174,000 cash cow for Noosa Council and one community service group, but is a now a crucial COVID-19 lifeline to Noosa Heads traders at peak holiday times?
The answer is the Noosa Heads Lions Park where 1ha of lawn has traditionally been used as an overflow car park.
According to council estimates it stands to gain $84,140 and the Tewantin-Noosa Lions Club which operates the parking $89,640 from the parking charges, with the money raised for the council helping to fund its transport initiatives.
Doubts about the Lions Park future as a parking facility surfaced last year when the Department of Natural Resources indicated to the council as park trustee that the practice should end.
Then last October the Hastings Street Association lobbied the department for the carparking to continue and, according to the council's transport innovation project manager Adam Britton, Natural Resources formally advised the council it no longer objected to the temporary use.
Mr Britton is recommending to the council's general committee on Monday to allow the use of the area over Christmas and Easter.
The dates sought for parking are December 14 to January 27 next year and from April 2 to 18.
Mr Britton wants council CEO Brett de Chastel to have the delegated authority to reduce the days subject to weather and advice from the council COVID Safe team.
"There has been increased pressure from key groups including the Hastings Street Association and Tourism Noosa to open the reserve to carparking on more school holidays and potentially long weekends in response to pressures to increase carparking to facilitate the expected drive market as a result of COVID," he said.
He said in June council property manager Clint Irwin requested the use of long weekends and was told by the department there would have to be further public consultation on what the preferred use of the park was at peak times.
Mr Britton said the Lions Park used to accommodate about 250 vehicles which was reduced to 150 vehicles due to tree and park surface damage.
"Prior to COVID it was envisaged that through increased use of alternative modes of travel into Hastings St precinct as a result of the Go Noosa program, paid parking would be phased out," he said.
The park would then remain in use at Christmas and Easter for its primary purpose a public recreation reserve.
"However, COVID is likely to reduce the expected number of people accessing the Noosa Heads area through public transport as part of council's free bus program at Christmas and Easter," Mr Britton said.
He said that could delay any move for a parking ban in the park.
"When the pandemic situation stabilises, the longer term use of Lions Park for carparking can be reassessed," he said.
Councillors will vote on Mr Britton's recommendations next Thursday at the ordinary council meeting.