Community & Business

23 March, 2022

Locals concerned with street change

MAREEBA’s main street will not become a “concrete jungle” when one of the only last remaining stretches of grass in the median strip is removed soon to accommodate another 19 car parking spaces.

By Robyn Holmes

Locals concerned with street change - feature photo

Mareeba Shire Council announced the works last week which will see the removal of the grassed median island in Byrnes Street, north of the Atherton Street intersection, and some removal and replacement of trees. 

While the council says there is a demand for more car parking spaces, it has admitted the savings in costs to maintain the grassed area would mean more resources can be diverted into the maintenance of other parks and recreation areas. 

“The Chamber of Commerce has been pushing this agenda for some time for more parking in the CBD and we do get people generally saying there is insufficient parking, even though we did the Railway Avenue parking area,” Mayor Angela Toppin said. 

Council officers told last week’s meeting that every time maintenance was required on that section of the street, it created a disruption to traffic flow and incurred additional costs, with one lane having to be closed and traffic management employed. 

Council undertook a CBD traffic study four years ago which has since guided works on the western and eastern sides of the main street which has included a new water main, garden islands and the removal and replacement of some trees. 

“There was an awful lot of number of trees that were planted that did not grow well there, they were in appropriate for the area and root bound. Palms were also a problem due to the constant shredding of fronds,” Mayor Toppin said. 

During the council meeting, some councillors acknowledged that not everyone was happy about the upcoming works and defended the decision to remove the grass and trees in favour of the car parks. 

“There’s been a few comments on the removal of the trees but it won’t be a concrete jungle as some have suggested,” Cr Locky Benstead said. 

A Facebook post on the Mareeba Community Noticeboard attracted a number of negative comments, mostly unsupportive of the removal of trees and grass in exchange for more car parks. 

“Noooo we want what’s left of the existing trees and gardens‼️” one woman posted.

“I want to know how this is a ‘park or open space’ that will benefit the ratepayers. It’s not like the town is short of car parks,” another wrote. 

“The people of Mareeba should have a say about this for we are the ones paying for it,” one said. 

“Oh, great less shade and more dangerous parking options, I thought they’d already put a massive car park by the railway, isn’t that enough, no one uses it,” another said. 

“Paved paradise and put up a parking lot! Where are the seats to sit on, where are the areas friends can stop and chat, where are the footpaths even and safe to transverse, where are shade trees? The gardens put in last year are full of weeds and rubbish,” one woman wrote. 

“Sadly, the small area they are reclaiming has the only public seat in the whole of the town main street. But rate payers still have to pay extra so the council can turn off comments (on its FB page) and continue to water weeds.” 

But CEO Peter Franks said by reducing the maintenance required for the Byrnes Street median strip, council could afford to maintain parks and open spaces in other parts of the shire. 

“We are rolling out the Parks and Open Spaces Strategy which will mean more maintenance in those areas and that means more costs which usually means putting up rates,” he said. 

“By reducing maintenance costs in Byrnes Street, we can then maintain the other parks and open spaces at a neutral cost to council.” 

The works will start late this month and expected to take 10 weeks. Some traffic disruption is excepted but council has pledged to ensure the two lanes are open in both directions during peak hours.


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