August 29th 2008
Crisafulli returns to listen
On Magnetic Island for a few days of "listening," Deputy Mayor of the new Townsville City Council, David Crisafulli, told Magnetic Times he was back to fulfil a promise he made prior to being elected, to come over and visit and meet as many Islanders as he could to hear of the issues most important to them.
"I was humbled by the support I received here and want to give something back," said the youthful former journalist over a coffee at Fat Possums Cafe.
One might also see the visit in terms of selling the recent budget brought down last week in which Townsville and Magnetic Islanders picked up a nearly 15 percent rates hike aimed at reducing the previous, Mooney administration's, debt.
Councillor Crisafulli was quickly on message; keen that it be known that the new council was about to spend $484,000 on Island road maintenance.
Of greater long-term interest the elusive Balfour Report on the future of transport on Magnetic Island (conducted in 2006) is soon to be released. "The results are not pretty and the the former Council never showed the report. It's pointless burying our heads in the sand" said Cr Crisafulli.
It was inevitable that the long called for walkway from Arcadia to Nelly Bay raised itself once more. "If I had a dollar for every Islander who told me the money on the Picnic to Nelly walkway should have been spent on the Arcadia to Nelly walkway I'd be rich.
"I think the moons for that project are starting to line up. There is a Council that understands the issue, the state government is 12 months before an election and Herbert is still a marginal seat."
The issue feeds into another aspect of the Island's ever so narrow roads problems. "A truckie I spoke to said the most important thing is to get the pedestrians and bicyclists off the roads."
Cr Crisafulli agrees that the completion of safe hill walkways (at least between Picnic Bay and Arcadia) will encourage many more people to stop driving cars and either walk or cycle.
At this point he asks your reporter what he (as a resident) would like to see as the ideal speed limit. I admitted that, as a very regular cyclist, I would love to see it dropped to 40kph. Cr Crisafulli didn't think this was likely but observed that there were parts of the Island, such as Marine Parade in Arcadia ,where the footpath actually touches the road and was keen to hear what Islanders think of reducing the speed limit across the Island to 50kph. (Magnetic Times hopes readers will offer their thoughts below). Perhaps the inspirational move by Stradbroke Island to become the world's first "Slow Island" (read here) may have been rather to the Councillor's liking.
When it comes to development on Magnetic the new Deputy is in tune with many of the readers who have commented about the appearance of Nelly Bay Harbour (read here). When asked about the Council's work on the Local Area Plan - a planning device for adding particular local considerations within the overall town plan - the Councillor claimed, "I'm not radical green but I'm not a develop-at-all-costs either."
"I have an ability to see what makes things special. When I arrive by ferry and see something that could be located anywhere in Australia I know we've made errors"
"It should be respectful development. It must respect the area where it is taking place."
The conversation then moved to the oft-neglected and, potentially contentious, aesthetic factor - and it seemed that an aesthetic clause may be a possibility for Magnetic's LAP. "It needs to strike a balance to prevent unsympathetic things but not give TCC the power to stop people painting their door a 'wrong' colour.
When asked more specifically about tree clearing laws - where it is possible that a land owner can remove all trees from a private block before applying for a, potentially tree preserving, development application - the Councillor seemed unfamiliar with the detail at this stage and, "couldn't comment"
On animal management on Magnetic Cr Crisafulli recalled the extremely strong support for cat and dog management found following the Catscan survey of the mid 1990s which led to the implementation of, the now discontinued, Local Law 10.1 under the former council. He commented that TCC had been selected as one of three councils in Queensland to receive funding for an animal management trial.
Following Magnetic Times' recent story "Slippery marina path reopened" (read here) Cr Crisafulli clarified that the matter had not gone to court but that the council's legal team were negotiating the underlying issues. "I'm not going to comment on the cause" he said, but was however keen to acknowledge the involvement of the Island's designated councillor, Rob McCahill and the Developer, Eureka Funds Management, in their agreement to get the path open. "It was very big of both of them" he said.
Story & photo: George Hirst
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