November 21st 2012
Nelly Bay Gateway concept plan puts legs first
The history of Nelly Bay Harbour being bailed out by tax and ratepayers’ dollars continues with the release of the latest effort to stitch a little silk into the sow’s ear Magnetic Island was dealt after the former state government became the developer of a horribly botched canal estate plan after it had turned to mud and rubble in the late 20th century.
As was known well and reported by Magnetic Times at the time, the carpark was never going to be big enough and the space dedicated to public facilities was always the poor cousin, room and position-wise, to that of the commercial marina development.
So, now, the harbour has been open for nine years. The 'hole in the ground' remains a muddy reminder of the pre-existing site’s languishing years and, to some, a testament to those greed-is-good old days; while the steel, concrete and bitumen surfaces which abound, have over achieved to place Magnetic Island well towards the live cattle-handling-dock end for visitors’ first impressions.
While one cannot blame the current Townsville City Council for having a go to improve the site with their recently commissioned Nelly Bay Gateway Concept Plan, the sound of round pegs being jammed into square holes is muffled as best as can be achieved by the anodyne buzz terminology of the document..
An overview of the plan
There are: ‘core nodes’, ‘hubs’, ‘interfaces’, the usual batch of ‘stakeholders’, lots of ‘enhanced’ this and that, ‘exploring’, ‘prioritising’ and ‘interacting’, ‘instilling local character attributes’ and even, ‘A high quality landscaped linear open space, the central pedestrian spine...’ which, I believe, is actually a foot/cycle path!
In a nutshell, however, the plan, developed by AECOM makes a radical proposal and it isn’t one your editor, who would prefer to ride a pushie whenever possible, particularly dislikes.
For all its verbal enhancements, the plan - which is only a suggestion now and, not by any stretch an about-to-do or done deal, but a ‘vision for future consideration’ - wants to remove most of the public carpark behind the terminal and replace it with something which sounds clumsily pitched to win over green-minded souls. It’s called a ‘Green heart‘ which, ‘will embrace Magnetic Island’s natural landscape setting through a significant public space positioned between the IGA, Ferry Terminal and future waterfront development’.
AECOM don’t quibble, however, when they say, ‘The Gateway prioritises people walking or riding before vehicles.’
111 (29 more than at present) car park spaces will re-appear, over the road near Boulder Court and on the block diagonally opposite (across the round-about) from what has, once again been described, for the first time since the days of the Nelly Bay Harbour Environmental Impact Statement I think, as a ‘convenience store’ or, in other words, the largest supermarket on Magnetic: IGA.
On that note, IGA would maintain their existing 30 spaces and a new short-term parking area, of about 53 spaces, would be made within a bus loop and terminal south east of IGA.
There are ideas to remove the glass and open up the passenger terminal, adding timber linings and, to form an ‘open air terminal with lockable core’. Vegetation would be increased around the building including the space where, presently, emergency vehicles can deliver patients to the ferry. It’s not clear where this space will now go, apart perhaps, from what is marked as a disabled parking area nearby.
And, the awning over the lower ferry access ramp would be replaced with something transparent as well as a vegetated arbour or trellis to soften the surfaces some more.
The plan has ideas for the ‘hole in the ground’ too, based on the hope that the owner might subdivide the large overall space into smaller and perhaps more viable retail spaces.
There is plenty to consider with this plan and while there will no doubt be objections, a document has been developed to bounce our likes, dislikes and hopefully some creativity against. It’s just a pity that after all these years we are still trying and paying to get something that isn't a dog at the front door of Magnetic Island.
The complete document is on TCC's website and there is a dialogue box there for comments too. We are having trouble with linking at present but if you visit TCC's website and enter "Nelly Bay gateway" you can read the full plan and make a comment to Council but why not copy your comments to our comments box below and be part of a community discussion.