JOHN Howe has retired as a trustee of Parklands Gold Coast, leaving behind the disappointment that he could not save the community venue from redevelopment.
Parklands, home to the Gold Coast Show, the Gold Coast Harness Racing Club and a host of community events including Big Day Out, will officially close on September 30 to make way for construction of the Commonwealth Games athletes’ village.
Howe’s tenure with the trust ended June 30 and although invited to stay on he has opted to retire from the role.
“As an engineer, my skills are better suited to building and not winding things up,” Howe tells Gold Coast Business News.
Howe is managing director of international event delivery firm IEDM and co-founder of engineering firm Weathered Howe.
Howe is also chairman of the Committee for Southport and a major voice behind the campaign to establish Southport as the Gold Coast’s true CBD.
“I saw little point in staying on,” Howe says.
“Two trustees are all that will be needed during the wind-up phase.”
Parklands Gold Coast CEO Stephen Sharry has paid tribute to Howe’s seven-year contribution to the trust.
Sharry says Howe brought “his renowned verve, energy and venue and event management experience to the task”.
"In no small measure, John and his fellow trustees have combined to maintain Parklands' status as one of the State Government's most high-performing public assets.
"Certainly John's business acumen greatly assisted our planning and management of the venue.”
Howe says one of his biggest disappointments was his inability to convince the State Government to seek an alternative site for the athlete’s village.
“It was a great disappointment that we couldn’t convince the government to save Parklands,” Howe says.
“I don’t think there has been a suitable replacement put forward for Parklands.”
Howe says the only viable alternative may be an expansion of the Broadwater Parklands, which would involve a realignment of the Gold Coast Highway.
But he says clubs such as harness racing are still left without a future in that proposal.
Three construction groups have been shortlisted to build the 2018 Commonwealth Games Athletes Village.
These are Melbourne-based Grocon which built the Soul tower in Surfers Paradise; a partnership between Mirvac Queensland and Laing O’Rourke Australia Constructions; and Village Park Consortium, comprising Australand Holdings and Citta Property Group.
The contract will be awarded early next year with construction scheduled to start in July next year.
Meanwhile, Sharry says that Parklands will soon launch a community campaign to secure the venue’s memories for future generations.
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