$5 million for play park a COVID ‘misadventure’
A Coast town's $5 million adventure playground showpiece could prove to be financial quicksand according to a residents group concerned about the economic downturn.
Cooroy Area Residents Association president Rod Ritchie said Noosa Council's predictions that the Hinterland Adventure Playground would generate millions of dollars in visitor spend for Cooroy had gone out the door with COVID-19.
"They've lost the all the southern visitors basically," Mr Ritchie said.
"(The association's) thinking is that this could be an opportunity given COVID and budget restrictions to redesign this.
"We'll be sending that suggestion off to them today."
He said the council should be looking at a less expensive concept "based on genuine consultation with the wider community".
"The present proposal, which was designed in the pre-COVID-19 era, should be scaled down to make it more affordable," Mr Ritchie said.
He understood the council had delayed budget outlay for the playground component until next year but would proceed with associated parking in Maple St and a raised crossing.
Council communications manager Ken Furdek said "council has allocated $1 million in the 2020-21 budget to progress the Hinterland Adventure Playground" as part of its $27 million capital works budget.
"The State Government has already committed $2.8 million to the project," he said.
Mayor Clare Stewart said COVID-19 had delayed the assessment of tenders.
"Our staff are still assessing tenders for the project and we hope to have further talks in coming weeks about the project," Cr Stewart said.
The mayor said the new council would be briefed on the project within the next fortnight.
The playground's economic and financial analysis, prepared last year for the previous council, said the $4.97 million project was to be financed with a 60 per cent contribution from local government grants and subsidies of $2.98 million, with the council contributing $1.99 million.
At that stage the report said the council had already committed $1.25 million to establish the project with a debt repayment schedule of 20 years based on a council overall operating surplus (before COVID) of about 2 per cent for the next 10 years.
The project was designed to bring in visitors from within and outside the shire and have a direct economic benefit by way of construction and maintenance upkeep, while generating a forecast residential and visitor spend of $1.2 million a year.
It was expected to generate 28 full-time jobs during construction, with a further 11 permanent operation jobs and six associated with "flow on" effects.