Questions raised over push to relocate landmark loo
Questions have been raised about the relocation of a landmark loo in Mooloolaba and whether or not it was connected to an ill-fated carpark development deal.
Sunshine Coast councillor Joe Natoli said there was "no explanation" for the push to relocate the Loo With a View building on Mooloolaba Esplanade and it appeared to be a case of looking for an "excuse" to get rid of the beachfront amenities block.
Former councillor John Connolly told the Daily the building had to be replaced after $3.5 million worth of repairs were identified in the 23-year-old facility.
He said assessments had revealed the plumbing was a "disaster" and the steel had shown signs of fatigue, while there were also issues with disability compliance and criticisms of the fact Mooloolaba Esplanade's major feature was a toilet block.
He said concerns had been fuelled by the incorrect location in council placemaking documents of the new amenities block in front of the Zanzibar building.
Mr Connolly said the council had only intended to rebuild the Loo With a View "right next door" with a flatter, transparent design and Visit Sunshine Coast offices incorporated.
Cr Natoli said he'd seen the engineering report, after several attempts to obtain a copy, and while it "needs a lot of love" the building was structurally sound.
Cr Natoli said there were "none whatsoever" structural issues raised in the engineer's report and everyone he'd spoken to "has said leave it as it is, they love it".
He said he wasn't sure people were comfortable with the "whole place being transformed into something that isn't recognisable".
"It is what it is and it's what makes Mooloolaba," Cr Natoli said.
"The simple things can often mean the most to people."
Cr Natoli had raised questions about the facility back in the June ordinary council meeting, when councillors voted to endorse KPAT Asset Management Pty Ltd to buy and develop the remaining Brisbane Rd carpark land with international hotel and resort chain Minor Hotel Group on board to operate a proposed 160-room, 158-carpark, 4.5 star hotel.
Cr Natoli asked the council officer whether an approval would be conditional on the Loo With a View having to be moved.
"There's no connection," the officer replied.
Cr Natoli then asked the officer whether he was aware of another minute noted in between the council confirming a broad agreement had been reached with Abacus on a deal for the Brisbane Rd carpark on May 18, 2017, and the June 15, 2017 ordinary meeting when the council agreed to legalise the agreement.
Cr Natoli was cut off before he could expand on the minute by Cr Peter Cox, who interjected with a point of order about Cr Natoli's points being "irrelevant".
Acting chair of the meeting, Deputy Mayor Rick Baberowski, agreed, and despite Cr Natoli's attempts to continue about the minute being "suspicious", councillors moved on before he could finish.
The Daily understood the minute Cr Natoli had been referring to was made by the Mooloolaba Foreshore Revitalisation Working Group in early-June, 2017, in the midst of the Abacus negotiations, which documented a relocation of the Loo With a View.
Mr Connolly said the relocation had been raised "about that time" but the two issues were not connected to each other.
He said the facility had to be replaced due to health issues in the toilet block and the steel and plumbing problems and the ideal placement had been at the end of Brisbane Rd, where it wouldn't affect any businesses.
Mr Connolly said he didn't think there was "anything underhanded" in the Abacus deal and the Brisbane Rd carpark and Loo With a View were not connected, nor did he expect they would be in the recent KPAT deal.
A Sunshine Coast Council spokeswoman said there was no connection of decision making between options for the Brisbane Road carpark site and the Loo With a View facility.
The spokeswoman said extensive stakeholder and community engagement was undertaken as part of the Placemaking Mooloolaba Master Plan, which was "informed by the community and endorsed by council in December, 2015".
The spokeswoman said detailed design was released in August last year which "evolved from the master plan" and sought to deliver a 40 per cent increase in public beachfront.
"A new and improved Loo With a View is part of the detailed design," the spokeswoman said.
She said the council was committed to engaging with the community to inform decision making on the Loo With a View, and community consultation on options for the "new and improved Loo With a View" was being planned for next year.
Former Division 10 Councillor Greg Rogerson said he couldn't say whether the Loo With a View and the Brisbane Rd carpark decisions had been linked.
He said he had been surprised by the relocation decision.
"I couldn't believe that you'd want to change the position of the Loo With a View," Mr Rogerson said.
"I couldn't believe they wanted to change it."
He said he thought it could've been refurbished, but his understanding was that the facility was structurally sound.
Mr Rogerson said businesses he'd spoken to along the Esplanade hadn't wanted the Loo With a View moved, as it was in a position that was fairly complementary to nearly all businesses in the area.
Mooloolaba Chamber of Commerce president Graeme Juniper said the relocation issue cropped up when the placemaking plans were released, showing the proposed new location in front of the Zanzibar building.
He said the chamber had discussed the matter and was of the view the Loo With a View "should be maintained in its current position".
He said it was seen as "iconic" and was a landmark building in Mooloolaba.
"We believe where it's positioned is perfect for beachgoers," Mr Juniper said.
He said the council needed to consider upgrading the toilets, but he'd seen no evidence to suggest a $3 million repair bill was necessary for the facility.
He said people couldn't understand why the Loo With a View was being moved.
"It's known on the world stage," Mr Juniper said.