Flood risk does not hold back Cooroy playground

Artists impression of the proposed playground at Cooroy.

By Margaret Maccoll

Noosa Council was both applicant and assessor when a Special Meeting was held last week where councillors gave the nod for the Cooroy Adventure Playground at Maple Street to proceed along with an associated 56 extra car park spaces.

That the threat of flooding dominated the discussion was not surprising given Council’s consulting hydraulic engineer was of the view that “the proposed use as a playground was incompatible with the nature of the sites flood constraints, as the proposal will actively encourage people (including children) to congregate in an area with known flood risks. To put it simply, if a child or an elderly person remains on site during even a minor (with a 50% chance of occurring in any given year) flood event, in the majority of locations on the site they will be at risk of serious injury or death,“ the engineer’s report said.

“It is therefore incumbent on Council as both the proponent and assessment manager to be confident that there is no reasonably foreseeable likelihood that the public will remain on the site during a flood event.“

To address the risk to people, Council submitted a revised Flood Risk Assessment and Emergency Management Plan (FRAEMP).

The plan included an audible and visual flood warning system, design changes to prevent increased flooding or visitor isolation and fencing designed to lie down during a flood event so as not to impede flood waters or cause a blockage.

Mayor Clare Stewart said she was satisfied flooding risks raised by the hydraulic engineer could be mitigated to provide a good and safe outcome.

Also raised in discussion was the existence of dioxins and furans in the soil across a 30 cubic metre area at levels exceeding available guidelines and thought to be left over from the land’s prior use for wood treatment and oil storage. Councillors voted on the submission of a Remedial Action Plan which includes the removal and disposal of soil within the 30cubic metre area prior to the playground opening.

The extra 56 car parking spaces proposed in the application include 22 car spaces within Lower Mill Road area, 12 new parking spaces on the western side of Maple Street (as well as a new zebra crossing on Maple Street) and 22 new parking spaces on the southern side of Mary River Road west of the existing tennis courts.The proposed playground includes a number of different play areas including a frog pond, water play, climbing and event precincts. An amenities building is proposed along the Marara Street frontage with picnic shelters located around the site. These structures include pitched roof forms, green roofs and timber screening.

Other features include timber towers, slides, and walkways within a landscaped setting with pathway links into the existing pathways to the north and south.

The playground concept was first mooted in 2003. In 2018 Form Architects were engaged to design the Cooroy Hinterland Playground and in 2019 Council received State Government funding of almost $2.8 million (60 per cent of the playground cost) to construct it.

Last week councillors voted unanimously in favour of the project.

Cr Joe Jurisevic described the project as a significant opportunity for Cooroy with the benefits far outweighing the negatives.