It is very clear that the decision had already been made before the Councillors formally voted on Tuesday night on the successful tenderers for the Oval Car Park and Whistler Street site. Otherwise how can you explain the detailed information board being erected in Whistler Street on Friday morning?
Whether you agree with the proposals or not, you have a right to expect that due process will be followed.
From day one, this has not been the case with the Liberal-led Manly2015 Plan.
Then we had the tender process …
Tenders closed on 15th March.
On the 30th March a last minute (unscheduled) 20 minute presentation was given by the General Manager on the recommended tenders to Councillors saying the staff report had been finalised.
An extraordinary meeting was called for Tuesday 12th April. Councillors were given notice on Thursday 7th April that they could view the tenders (massive documents) before the Extraordinary meeting the following Tuesday. Councillors were required to sign not one, but two confidentiality agreements.
But this week was the absolute pits ….
On the night of the meeting, the general public were refused access to the Council Chambers to hear the start of the meeting. Although a closed session was proposed none the less the law states that it’s the Councillors who decide, not the General Manager, and that a vote needs to be taken to go into closed session at the start of the meeting. This was not done.
Rangers refused access to some 80 local residents who turned up to hear the debate. The police were called. The meeting went ahead with the blinds closed and the doors locked. Attempts by the non-Liberals for the correct procedure to be followed were refused.
That wasn’t the end of it.
Although the meeting was in ‘closed session’ and therefore I am not permitted to report on what was discussed in the meeting, I don’t think you have to be Einstein to work out how the vote went – based on statements made by the four non-Liberal Councillors (Candy Bingham, Barbara Aird, Cathy Griffin and Hugh Burns) prior to the meeting and the ongoing recorded stand by the five Liberal Councillors led by the Mayor Jean Hay.
Councillors were told there was no opportunity for them, or the public, to make comments or suggestions about the winning tenders but that any feedback could be made at the time of the Development Application. (This is exactly what was done with the Indoor Pool complex and we all know how well that has gone).
A rescission motion, signed by all four non-Liberal Councillors, was lodged after the meeting at 10.06pm by email. But it was refused on the basis that the tenderers had already been notified. (Not sure that a phone call to tenderers after 9pm is usual business practice?)
Then to add insult to injury ….
The very next day the winning tenders were announced on Manly Council’s website with substantial photographs, copy and a fly-though video which had not even being seen by the Councillors!
Two days later Council staff were erecting an elaborate information board in Whistler Street with all the details about the Oval Car Park and Whistler Street winning tenders. That’s two days later … you think they would at least have had the decency to pretend the final decision was made by the full council and allow some time to look as though everything hadn’t been pre-prepared and ready to go.
As I said, democracy is dead in Manly. The announcement of council amalgamations is expected to be in the next 10 weeks – what a mess the new Council will be left with.
But it is not over. The Save Manly Oval Alliance has committed to fight the decisions firstly at the Development Application stage, and then in the Land & Environment Court if necessary. They have my full support.
Proposed changes to Sydney Road to accommodate the Entrance and Exit Ramps for the Manly Oval Car Park will be a disaster according to local experts.
The above plan comes from a report commissioned by Manly Council and provided to the three companies invited to tender for the construction of the Manly Oval Car Park, and is the one used by the successful tenderer Abergeldie. The plan shows the location of:
The following are some of the more obvious problems with this arrangement:
Perhaps, one of the biggest concerns is that of safety.
To get more information on the problems associated with this arrangement, go to the review by David Wunder at http://www.savemanlyoval.com.au/traffic-report.html.
David Wunder, Ian Sharp and Terry le Roux
Save Manly Oval Alliance
15 April 2016
This week Manly Council announced the winning tenderers for the long-drawn out Manly2015 process of the Oval Car Park and Whistler Street site.
Oval Car Park
The design and construction of a 500 space car park underneath a reinstated Manly Oval was awarded to Abergeldie for around $28m.
This is well within Council’s budget of $34m which was originally set aside for a 760 space car park. Many local experts still question whether $28m is a realistic budget given the complexities of the site – only time will tell.
Many questions still remain about the management of traffic in Sydney Road and the proposed use of a roundabout at Eustace Street. These issues will need to be addressed if RMS approval is to be gained.
The Save Manly Oval Alliance has vowed to continue to fight the car park proposal.
Whistler Street Site
The proposal for the Whistler Street site was a surprise, taking a new look at what could be done within the triangle space.
Although KPMG’s original report stated that the Whistler Street car park site would be valued at around $16m, well-known Architects FJMT for Built Development Group & Athas Holdings, turned the design on its head producing an innovative approach that utilised the total site (Library & old car park) and offering Council a two-level library on the 5th & 6th floors, 50 car parking spaces (intended for disabled and 30 minute parking only) and a ‘theatre’ which in fact is two small 80 seat cinemas. Council will also receive a cash payment of $37m from the deal in exchange for a 99 year lease for both the car park and library sites.
Already dubbed ‘the glasshouse’ by locals because of the extensive use of glass in the design, the new development will include retail at ground level, sixty-eight apartments, commercial space and library, meeting spaces and council offices.
The General Manager of Manly Council said that work is expected to start on the oval car park in October this year and take about 12 months to complete.
Once operating the Whistler Street site will be redeveloped with a time-frame of 2 years to complete. During this time the Library will be re-located in temporary accommodation yet to be decided.
No opportunity has been provided by Council for Councillor or public feedback on the new Whistler Street plan. Let’s hope the developer has the sense to undertake community input before their Development Application is lodged.
Both projects will require the approval of the Joint Regional Planning Panel.
Manly Council voted last night in closed session to proceed with the Oval Car Park and the 99 year lease of the Whistler Street site. The plan for Whistler Street involved the total site being redeveloped for retail, commercial, apartments and some library and community space.
What do you think?
Built Development Group & Athas Holdings (local Chris Athas already owns a number of successful retail & commercial properties in Manly) were the successful tenderer.
All has been done with great haste just 10 weeks before expected announcement of council amalgamations.
No opportunity for Councillors, or the public, to provide comment until the Development Application is lodged.
More details to come .....
Meanwhile the Oval Car Park tender was awarded to Abergeldie Complex Infrastructure for $27,733,747.
The whole of Sydney was shocked when 26 of our little penguins were massacred by a fox last winter. The North Head little penguin colony has survived but now the birds face another threat. This time it's man made and may be even worse.
Q station resort hotel wants to crank up the volume at its Quarantine Station site. The Mawland Group, which runs the hotel, has applied to change its planning controls, including boosting visitor numbers, and playing music in an outdoor area just metres away from little penguin nests.
Just as worrying is a request to remove NSW Parks and Wildlife Service as co-proponents of the site, meaning that independent oversight would be minimised and Mawland would have prime responsibility for care of the Quarantine Beach penguin colony.
"It's a terrible suggestion,” Good For Manly councillor Candy Bingham said. “That would mean that our beautiful little penguins, which are already right on the borderline of survival here on the mainland, would be left in the care of a company that has no environmental expertise, and is run for profit. I’m also concerned that Mawland has asked for its environmental audits to be decreased from every five years to every eight years,”
The outdoor music plan is problematic as well.
The proposal is to allow ambient dining music which would not exceed 50 dB - a volume similar to “conversation at home” - when measured at the edge of the outdoor eating area. While it’s true that the existing ban on any amplified music does impose limits on activities - such as weddings - at the site, and the hotel is not asking to play music loud; the penguin colony still needs to be taken into account. Of concern is that penguins choose quiet, secluded areas for their nests and the birds are active around dusk, when the music is likely to be played, with adult birds returning to their nests to feed their young at that time and mating pairs also likely to be disturbed. The same concerns surround the proposal to boost maximum permitted guest numbers from 450 to 600 people.
“All this is less than one year after the endangered colony was savaged by a fox, sparking a massive effort by Parks and Wildlife staff and almost 100 volunteers,” Cllr Bingham said. “The group braved long, cold winter nights and freezing winds to physically guarded the nesting sites at Quarantine station, Collins Beach and Store Beach on a round-the-clock three-month-long vigil. What a disaster if their efforts went to waste.”
The Mawland proposals are now before the Department of Planning and Environment.
Images: Activities at Boilerhouse Restaurant, pictured at Quarantine Beach, may be ramped by.
North Head and the Q Station complex including Quarantine Beach and jetty.
For the past 21 years Narelle Simpson has trained swimmers at Manly’s Boy Charlton Swim Centre.
The popular swim coach has also trained elite swimmers in Australia’s Olympic, Paralympic and World championship teams. She has spent years coaching Northern Beaches lifesavers, triathletes, water polo champions and marathon swimmers, including James Pittar the first blind swimmer to cross the English Channel.
But none of that made any difference to Manly Council.
The council did not renew Ms Simpson's contract or offer her any ongoing role in the new-look swim centre, which will open its doors in July after a massive $25 M indoor facility addition. Council plans to run the Learn to Swim programs in the new facility.
The situation is so bad that dozens of Ms Simpson’s ’squaddies’ came to Manly Council's 4th April meeting to express their frustration and rage. They were there thanks to a motion by Cllr Cathy Griffin that the Council formally recognise Ms Simpson’s huge contribution to the community over the past two decades.
Even that had been bungled with the council sending a letter of thanks along with a notice telling Ms Simpson her contract would not be renewed.
“Narelle is a huge asset to this area,” swim squad member and lawyer Mark Houston told councillors.
“Her achievements as a swim coach are outstanding. If she goes a whole bunch of people will have nowhere to go to train - triathletes, open water and pool swimmers. It’s Narelle that makes the difference - they follow her. We don’t even know if she can hire lane space after the new centre opens on the first of July.”
Rows of fit-looking, young swimmers agreed, with many vowing to boycott the new swim centre unless their coach was treated with respect.
Good for Manly Councillor Candy Bingham said the Council’s plan to manage the new swim centre itself has created a nightmare for contractors.
“It’s totally unacceptable that, with less than three months to go, existing contractors don’t know if they can continue to hire lanes” she said. "No one - not even the councillors - have seen any business plans on how the new centre will operate."
And while the business plan, and the new centre manager remain elusive, there is some comfort at least for Ms Simpson and her swimmers.
A motion by Cllr Hugh Burns that all existing squads and their coaches be guaranteed at least 12 months’ access to swim lanes after July 1st, was passed.
Ms Simpson will also receive a more fitting letter of commendation and thanks.
“Operational plans for the new centre still remain a mystery with councillors being kept in the dark, despite repeated requests for information ,” Cllr Bingham said. "it's just not acceptable".
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.