News

Let’s move on from cottonwood debate: Mayor

MAYOR Gerard O'Connell won't take any notice of protests against clearing 400sqm of cottonwoods at Ernie Organ Park despite the continuing public uproar.

At the council's last meeting on November 12, Cr George Seymour asked his colleagues to put the plans to public consultation.

Despite Cr Seymour losing the motion 4-7, protests and campaigns against development have continued.

A group of residents have gathered several times at the park led by state independent candidate for Hervey Bay Jannean Dean following the vote to voice their concerns.

A petition against removing the cottonwoods has been established by Ms Dean and has been signed by almost 230 supporters.

The Hervey Bay Foreshore Protection Group on Facebook has also been reborn.

Ms Dean is dissatisfied with the council response, and has organised a Cottonwoods by Candlelight event on December 6 from 6 to 9pm.

"Right now council's attitude isn't good," she said.

"The Cottonwoods by Candlelight may be the last time residents get to experience the ambience of the place before the trees are destroyed."

Ms Dean would like another councillor to bring the issue back to the council's attention.

Despite the community anger, Cr O'Connell remained firm that the decision had been made.

"With the greatest highlight and emphasis on democracy that discussion was had and a decision made," he said.

"This type of enhancement was well and truly flagged - some 26 months ago."

Cr O'Connell said it wasn't every cottonwood tree being taken.

"Council had the opportunity to have another vote on it, we debated it, there was a very lengthy report, it was public - I don't know how much more transparent that can be," he said.

"I think it's been done and we're now moving on."

Cottonwood timeline

  • September 2012: the council outlined its plans for the Esplanade
  • October 28: George Seymour urged the Mayor to be transparent with removal plans
  • November 12: the council voted against a public consultation period

Topics:  clearing, development, ernie organ park, hervey bay, mayor, torquay



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