Manly residents don't want a new car park or a new library. They want to keep the ones they already have.
They don't want $80 million spent on new infrastructure and they don't want Manly Council to persist with its deeply unpopular Manly 2015 redevelopment plan.
That was the message from over 400 Manly residents and business owners who turned out for Saturday's Manly 2015 public meeting organised by the Good For Manly Association (February 22, 2014).
Questions and comments from the floor showed just how unpopular the Manly 2015 plan is. The high level of debt, pulling down the existing library, and building an underground car park in a flood plain were particularly criticised.
All of Manly's independent councilors, Clrs Barbara Aird, Candy Bingham, Cathy Griffin and Hugh Burns were present. The Liberal councillors, who hold five out of nine council seats, were represented by first-term councillor James Griffin. Local Member, Mike Baird, was also in attendance.
The scene was set with four excellent speakers · Jeremy Bingham, Former Lord Mayor of Sydney & renowned Local Government Lawyer on Local Councils and their responsibility to the Community; Peter Greentree former Head of Equities, Challenger Financial Services on Funding 2015 Plan - The Financial Implications & Risks; Michael Peters, Chair Balgowlah Heights Precinct, The Community Consultation Process and Rob Burgess, Specialist in Town Centres and former Chief Town Planner, Manly Council on Revitalising the Manly Village.
While there was a no doubt about opposition to the 2015 plan, what to do about it was another matter. Given Manly Council's record of not listening to the public and its current dominance by Liberal councillors who vote as a block, how to actually stop the plan became the meeting's main challenge.
Local Member and State Treasurer, Mike Baird, was invited to address the meeting and admitted the financial viability of Manly 2015 in its present form was "marginal" but that Manly Council, led by project champion Mayor Jean Hay, was "working hard" to address these financial issues. His comments did not reassure the meeting.
The mood was summed up by a man who jumped up in the back row to say: "We don't want a car park under the oval and we don't want a new library. We don't want them. It's not about the money. We just don't want them."
So the meeting did what it could - it called on Manly Council to retain Whistler St car park and the library and to abandon the oval car park proposal; and it called on Mr Baird, as State Treasurer and local MP, to do everything in his power to make that stick.
The resolution, which was passed unanimously, called on the Mayor Clr Jean Hay, the General Manager, Henry Wong, and all Councillors to abandon all proposals to demolish the Library and the Whistler Street carpark and to construct a car park under Manly Oval; and that alternative plans to revitalise Manly's village centre in the Market Lane triangle, be considered.
If you missed the meeting you can still take action here.
Sign our Petition to the Premier to Say No to Manly's Mega Debt
See below to download Minutes from Meeting and Financial Presentation from Peter Greentree.
Other Ideas to Revitalise Whistler Street.
In addition to ideas already promoted by Good For Manly to revitalise the Whistler Street carp ark and creation of a new Plaza, Rob Burgess presented long forgotten plans developed by Manly Library's renowned architect, Feiko Bouman ,to add two storeys to the existing Library, open it up at ground level and revitalise the the old Whistler Street car park. (above)
Some other facade ideas to improve the Whistler Street car park ...
Public Meeting - Minutes & Financial notes
A working party comprising local residents, the Brookvale Soccer Club, the Cricket Club and dog owners has come up with a solution which will enable the continuation of dogs off-leash at LM Graham Reserve.
The issue came to a head last year when Council proposed to provide a limited fenced-in area for dogs following complaints by the sporting bodies that dog droppings and the behaviour of some dogs, were having an unacceptable impact on their playing fields and players.
Dog owners got organised and started a roster to ensure that playing fields were free of dog poo, and undertook a campaign to educate fellow dog-owner users of the reserve.
The proposed fencing of a section of the reserve, new signage and dog faeces management strategies have enabled the reserve to remain off-leash to dog owners and their pooches.
A controversial decision to build a water polo pool at Manly swim centre will stand, despite concerns the decision process sidelined locals, pool users and councillors alike.
Councillor Candy Bingham used Manly Council's first meeting of the year to ask for the polo pool to be put on hold until the council has seen a full business case on how it will be funded and operated.
The polo pool, which will replace the existing 25m outdoor pool,
was not part of the redevelopment plan for the Centre until last October, when the council agreed to "explore the possibility" of building a water polo pool.
No further discussion took place, however a Development Application (DA) to build the water polo pool was lodged just before Christmas, with submissions to the DA closing before council resumed this week.
"You can't tell me that due process has been followed here," Cr Bingham said. "I'm not against the possibility of a water polo pool at the swim centre. I'm just appalled at the contempt with which the elected councillors are treated."
The councillors weren't the only ones left out of the loop.
Several Manly residents spoke at the Council meeting asking the council to keep the 25m outdoor pool as it is. Reasons include the huge popularity of the pool with small children, who are too big for the toddler pool but still need a pool where they can always touch the bottom. Nervous adult swimmers love it too, as well as mothers who can look after several children at once with the existing arrangement of the toddler and 25m pools right next to each other.
The polo pool decision also goes against a public promise made by Manly Council General Manager Henry Wong that the existing pool would not be touched. The commitment, made to the Manly Daily in July, followed community anger at initial plans to remove the "beloved" 25m pool.
However Liberal councillors, voting as a block, signed the 25m pool's death warrant.
"I'm really disappointed," Clr Bingham said. "I'm disappointed that my Liberal colleagues are prepared to accept such a sloppy decision making process. "Now we're going ahead with a $1.5 million piece of infrastructure, even though the council never made the decision to build it, and the locals don't want it."
Cr Bingham said that encouraging car sharing in this way would actually free up car spaces in Manly as people elect not to have their own vehicle.
Consultation will be undertaken with local precinct groups and car share companies to decide on the most suitable locations.
The Manly 2015 "urban renewal" plan depends on pulling down Whistler St car park and selling off the land for a mixed retail-residential development. Then spending $40 million to build a new a car park under Manly oval - in a flood zone and further away from the shops. Here's a better idea - keep Whistler St.
Whistler St car park is for the locals. It's right in Manly CBD, with no major roads between you and the shops. Manly oval car park - way over there on the wrong side of busy Belgrave St - will be for the tourists, who don't know where else to park. If you've got heavy shopping, or it's raining, the oval's too far away.
Whistler St makes a profit - $700,000 each year. The oval car park? Maybe after 2030. And that depends on continuing low interest rates on our $30+ million loan, low car park maintenance costs and more people coming to Manly in cars.
Maintenance costs. Whistler St doesn't cost a lot to maintain, because it's built above ground. The council already owns an underground car park - the one in Wentworth St - and it's by far the most expensive to maintain. The oval car park would be a multi-level construction, built in a known water course in a known flood zone. How much will we really pay?
Whistler St car park does not have concrete cancer.
We do not need to spend $5.2 million to bring Whistler St up to fire safety standards. Our advice is that the car park was built in the 1970s and need only conform to fire standards for an existing building. It would need fire stairs on the outside and additional sprinklers. Good For Manly's expert has assessed the upgrade at under $500,000.
Whistler St is ugly. Yes it is. Here are some ways to make it beautiful. Install vertical gardens like the gorgeous creations at Central Park, Broadway. Put up murals. Install a screen on the side of the car park and show outdoor movies on it. Convert the small ground level parking area in front to a pedestrian plaza.
A car park doesn't mind the noise. But people do. The Manly 2015 Plan is to build apartments on the Whistler St site. But that doesn't work with the rest of the plan, which is to revitalise Market Lane - right next door - and have wine bars and restaurants open till late.
We save $30+ million. More if construction costs or interest rates go up.
Are there any other good reasons to keep Whistler St car park? Let us know here.
Candy Bingham, Deputy Mayor, Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations & community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.