‘Cowardly behaviour’: Palm Beach residents fear retribution
MANY Palm Beach business owners and residents are reluctant to voice their opinion about the proposed Stage 4 light rail due to fears of retribution.
The Gold Coast Bulletin asked 70 business owners, residents and staff if they supported the light rail running through Palm Beach on its way to the airport at Coolangatta.
Cr Tate said it was important the whole city shared their views on the light rail network, not just a "vocal few in Palm Beach".
A majority of businesses owners and residents asked about the light rail were not keen to go on the record because they feared backlash if their answer differed to the community.
More than half of the 70 people interviewed declined to comment. Some said they had already faced negativity from the community.
A restaurant owner explained his business partner was reported in the Gold Coast Bulletin supporting the final stage of the light rail and was called out by his customers.
He said some Palm Beach residents were not happy his business partner had endorsed the final stage of light rail because it "didn't support what the community wanted".
Another business owner, who also declined to comment, said customers were both for and against the project and she did not want to upset them by voicing her opinion.
Cr Tate said now more than ever local businesses needed support.
"This is cowardly behaviour," he said of the alleged threats to business owners and staff. "Right now we need to be supporting local businesses more than ever.
"Everyone is entitled to voice their opinion and it's disturbing to think that business owners are copping it for supporting an infrastructure project that supports the economy and ultimately their livelihood.
"The vocal minority strikes again.
"I would remind this vocal minority that this is a whole-of-Gold-Coast matter. It is not just about Palm Beach.
"Are they going down to Coolangatta and voicing their opinion there or going up to Helensvale? We will consult with the whole of the Gold Coast about this project."
The Gold Coast Bulletin asked Facebook group Palm Beach Locals 4221 if business owners should fear speaking up about the project, but most sidestepped the question.
Nikki Archer wrote that if business owners were certain of the light rail's merits and were "adult enough" to run a business, they could have the conviction of their words in public.
"It's a little revealing they've not done their market research on this by looking to Stage 2 business precincts like Southport and Surfers. Palmy businesses will be lucky to last through the years of construction. Be it on their own heads to advocate for it.
"If the light rail works, if it will economically and socially benefit the communities they live and work in, then they should have the confidence of their facts.
"(The) issue is there is no community consultation. We have divisive 'leadership' bringing discourse down to throwing tomatoes."
Steve Mackney said if business owners thought the light rail would improve their traffic flow and turnover, "they're delusional".
"If they are relying on it coming through for this to happen they really need to have a good look at their business plan."
WHAT PALM BEACH HAD TO SAY
Judy Meir, Palm Beach resident: I think it's a great idea but I don't where the station is going to be. It'll be good for older people because we can park our cars and ride to wherever we need to go.
Leah Keary, Vue Optometrist Palm Beach staff member: All they've got now is one-hour parking down the middle of our street. If they put the light rail down here, where is everyone going to park?
Gianfranco Priolo, Priolo Jewellers Owner: I hope everything will be OK with it.
Rick Gabain, Pool Centre Palm Beach owner: There is no room here. My view on what should happen is that it should come down to Burleigh and turn tight at Reedy Creek. The whole thing with light rail though, I've never been on it.
Christina Nichols, Beer Thai Garden staff member: I think it could potentially be really good. It will bring people who don't have as much access to the area down here as well. And it's a bit easier being near the airport for people that travel up this way and then travel back if they need to. I think it'd be a good thing.
Elaine Kidd Manning, Dr Michael Tong's Othopaedic Surgeon staff member: For our patients, it will be good because we have a bus stop that stops right at the front here. And if they wanted to catch the light rail that would be great too.
Paige Manzenares, Wildernis Cafe and Bar staff member: I'm not keen on it bringing too many people. Palm Beach has always been a nice, peaceful escape for the locals. It's going to change a lot.
Bob Coote, Palm Beach resident: I don't want it through here. There are enough problems with traffic on the Gold Coast highway already.
Tuan Pham, Palm Bach Cakes and Pies owner: People in Palm Beach nowadays, a lot of people don't like development and change. But young people, I think they love it.
Keely De Klerk, Palm Beach Bakery staff member: Yes and no. I think that the areas that they're doing are affecting some of the land and wildlife around it, and potentially they could seek alternatives to that, but it's definitely a good system.
Nicole Hay, Palm Beach local and business owner: No, I don't want it. I want to keep Palm Beach as a small, beachside community and not block up our backstreets with traffic because we have a tram going through the middle.
Richard Twist, Currumbin Waters resident: As locals, we'd rather not have it. The overcrowding, parking and traffic problems it would cause. But the Coast is growing and it almost seems inevitable.
Tyrone Smith, Freedom Hub manager: I noticed during the construction in Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach it was disruptive. And I would like to know how the light rail has benefited businesses in Broadbeach and Surfers Paradise? And what's wrong with the bus system? They seem to be OK.
Shari Jones, Palm Beach property manager: I'm all for the end product.
Georgia Brown, Palm Beach property manager: I'm for it. I think it will be great for the area. It will boost business and tourism and will create jobs for locals.
Sarah Ciegel, Palm Beach receptionist: No. I think it sounds loud and the construction will be inconvenient.
Gareth Martin, Palm Beach local: I'm all for it. We need good infrastructure for the area to grow and it will help to ease traffic congestion.
Debbie Kempnich, Palm Beach local: No, I don't want it. We have something really special here and I think it would bring more crime once they're all connected. The buses are running just fine.
Lee Rowe, Palm Beach Pharmacy assistant: For business it will be good and to help people get around. Staff parking here is an issue, so I could use it to travel from home to work.
John English, Palm Beach Furniture owner and local: Yes. If you're going to have a light rail, do it for the tourists. They want to travel along the beachfront, not out the back on the heavy rail. As a business owner though, I am concerned about the disruption from the construction.
Michelle Clarke, Night Owl Palm Beach owner: We lost a lot of money while it was being constructed in Surfers Paradise, but I think it will be good for the long term.
Danny Nathan, Shipwreck Barbers owner: No to the light rail because of the traffic congestion and loss of parking and we want to keep Palm Beach community-based.
Mikey Perry, Palm Beach local: Yes, I'd find it very handy because pre-COVID, I would fly out of the Gold Coast Airport every weekend.
Kayla Wilson, Palm Beach barber: The positive for me is it will be easier to go out at night, but I'm worried about the congestion it will create.
Brenton Waller, Kingswood Park owner: Car parking is our biggest issue here. The light rail will take out all the (Gold Coast) highway parking. The construction will disrupt businesses. It had a huge effect on people's livelihoods in Surfers (Paradise) and Broadbeach.
Isaac Burton, Wildernis Cafe and Bar manager: It will create more customer traffic for us. It's a short-term pain for a long-term gain.
Jake Arena, Surfboard Warehouse salesman: I think I'm for it. It's just going to be hard on traffic when they're building it. All in all, it seems promising.
Anthony Wright, Burger Shack manager: No, I don't want it. Due to the impact on traffic, parking and on pedestrians being able to access our restaurant.
Jitraudee Chantawat, Contemporary Chef House owner: No. I'm worried about the impact it will have on my businesses. I have one at Burleigh and Palm Beach.
Eddie Uzan, Balboa Italian owner: If whoever decided we needed a light rail because of increased population, fine, but not if it was to suit some politician on top of the pyramid. Half the buses are empty. It will have a huge impact on the Gold Coast Highway, they need to put it beside the M1.
Originally published as 'Cowardly behaviour': Palm Beach residents fear retribution