COOKTOWN could have a brand-new recreation centre complete with dodgem cars, arcade games and a ten-pin bowling alley if Dan Robinson’s $5 million plan comes to fruition.
Mr Robinson and partner Lee Murray have spent more than a year on a scoping study and said they were almost at the end of the process.
“The feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive,” Mr Robinson said.
“But we just need to know whether the demand is there before we approach the bank for finance, which is why I’ve launched a survey.”
Mr Robinson, a long-time local, said the idea had been in the back of his mind for years, but it wasn’t until he saw a photo of his glory days in a ten-pin bowling league as a young man that it solidified.
“I thought I really miss that, and there’s nothing like that up here, you have to drive four hours’ to Cairns and pay fuel and accommodation,” he said.
“I’d love to have four to six ten-pin lanes, an arcade area with games like air hockey, pinball and ticket games and a hybrid area with retractable seating which could be used as a movie theatre, skating rink and for dodgem cars.”
While the idea might sound like a dream come true for local families, Mr Robinson said he and Ms Murray had been working hard on their business plan to ensure the idea was viable.
“I’ve done all the costings, I’ve got Census information on how many households live here and designs for retractable seating, the dodgem cars, the air fryers for the café – I’ve been working at it pretty hard.
“I’m being realistic, I know it’s not going to be busy all the time, and I have costed it so that even if it ran at only 33 per cent capacity, it would still make a profit.”
Mr Robinson said the centre would be a place for local families from Cooktown and surrounding areas, as well as visitors, and his plans were to keep costs down while employing locals.
“There would be employment opportunities from cooks in the café to after-school juniors, cleaners and mechanics maintaining the games and dodgem cars,” he said.
“I have plans to keep costs down so that the prices are affordable for local families, including a huge solar system which would get rid of most of the electricity costs.”
Mr Robinson said his dream centre would cost almost $5 million and one of the final stages of the scoping phase was determining community demand.
“All it’s cost me at the moment is my time, now it’s at the stage where it will start costing money to start the planning phase, and I need to know if the community demand is there,” he said.
Mr Robinson has launched an online survey he hopes will be completed honestly by as many people as possible to help him gauge how many people would use the centre, how often and what activities they would enjoy.
“It’s a huge project, it’s a massive risk, that’s why I need as many people as possible to complete the survey to show me whether there would be demand for the centre.”
Visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/6TL2ZXH to complete the survey.