The Editorial in today's Manly Daily says it all.
Since February this year I have been asking for the full report, commissioned by KPMG, on the financial viability of Manly Council's idea to build an 800 space car park under Manly Oval.
This request has been denied. I have sent emails to the General Manager, completed a Councillor Request Form, raised the issued at Councll meetings and have now been asked (and have complied) to complete a formal GIPA (access to information) form and pay $30 fee.
Doesn't this strike you as a bit strange? I am a Councillor, (similar to a Board of Directors) being asked to vote on a $70 million dollar project but am being refused access to the financial information to assist me in assessing the validity of the Plan.
It does pose the question - just what is in the report that they don't want us to know about?
Since September 2011 there has been no further public comment nor consultation by Manly Council and yet the majority of Councillors are about to vote to proceed with this Plan, with only minor modifications.
At its core, Manly 2015 Plan proposes the demolition of the Whistler Street car park, and sale of that site to developers for mixed use and apartments; the demolition & rebuilding of the 18 year old library, the building of a two-storey car park under Manly Oval with entry & exit via Sydney Road, and public domain improvements.
The published budget is below but does not include include the additional construction costs such as professional fees, budget blow-outs, relocation compensation or make-good costs, feasibility studies etc.
Public Domain $15 million
Oval Car Park $36 million
Village Centre $35 million
(demolish Whistler St. Car Park, build new Library)
Manly Swim Centre Upgrade $15 million
Council's debt will increase from $17.96 million today to $92 million in 2017/2018.
Can Manly afford this Plan? Will the car park under the Oval become a white elephant? Why is Council considering the demolition of assets which are viable such as the Whistler Street car park and the 18 year old library? And why won't the General Manager provide the Councillors with the full KPMG report on the financial viability of the Oval Car Park?
If you were on the Board of Directors (which Councillors effectively are) would you vote on $100 million in new capital works without seeing the feasibility study undertaken?
Go to our website page to see the latest on the Council's Plan and our alternative idea to rejuvenate, not redevelop, Manly's Village.
Summary by Councillor Cathy Griffin - 27th October 20, 2011.
This is my take on the presentations and discussion held at the Councillor Workshop on Thursday 27th Oct 2011.
Please note that the meeting went for approximately 3 hours. No agreement was reached one way or the other and staff were requested to provide more information and another meeting will be held in a fortnight to discuss the issues further once Councillors have had an opportunity to digest all the detail and info presented.
1. It was generally agreed that an Option 3 now proposed for the carpark which eliminates the ‘secondary’ entry/exit in Raglan St would resolve the issues raised by the Ivanhoe Precinct and residents in Raglan St.
2. This would save approximately $2mil
3. A pedestrian entry/exit would remain on the Raglan St side of the carpark however it was not clear where this would be located.
4. The entry/exit would be via a ‘slot’ in Sydney Rd. It was not clear if this slot was only on the downhill slope only.
5. There is a ‘lag’ of approximately 3 years for private investment in property improvements in the area assumed to benefit from the location of the new car park and demolition and rebuild of Whistler St.
6. Landscaping of Raglan St between Belgrave and the Steyne was seen as a priority.
7. The consultation period, including recently received submission revealed 440 issues. There were 142 individual submissions
8. Retail tenancies are intended for the underground pedestrian pass from the exit/entry on the Sydney Rd side of the carpark to the Whistler St side.
9. Council has not spoken directly with the Tennis Club, only with the Department of Lands who advised that the Tennis Club had ‘a very long lease’. Council has agreed to discuss the inclusion of the tennis courts in the plan with a view to an entry on Belgrave St and perhaps an increase in the number of car spaces.
10. The Council has not factored in to the financial figures the possibility of a grant from the NSW State Government for ‘park and ride’ spaces in the new carpark. This would mean that 30% of the spaces would have to be dedicated to ‘park and ride’. For 800 spaces this would mean 240 spaces. There was some suggestion that the current 140 ‘long stay’ spaces in the Manly Pacific carpark would move to the oval carpark. It is worth noting that approximately 3500 passengers use the ferries during each peak hour to and from Manly.
11. Council would not be the operator of the carpark but would seek expressions of interest. The current free two hours would remain.
12. Technology is available to ‘manage’ the speed of exiting the carpark from a single entry to minimise any queues forming.
13. The STA stated in their submission that they could not guarantee the continuation of their current services if the plan was implemented as presented. It was not clear if this included the now rescinded proposal along the Steyne.
Breakdown of the number of issues
Oval car park 36%
Whistler St 5%
Sustainable Transportt and Tram 10% (evenly split for and against)
Tourist not residents 5%
Public Domain 2%
Breakdown of comments postcode origin
Manly 2095 71%
Fairlight 2094 17%
Balgowlah 2093 3%
Seaforth 2093 4%
The concerns and staff responses that were identified were:
Environmental – these would be resolved in the detail of the design
Traffic – these have been resolved with the removal of the Raglan St entry/exit and the reinstatement of the on street parking and traffic flow from the Eastern hill
More cars – removes the parking issues in the CBD
Financial Concerns – self funding over time (50 years)
Whistler St – opposition to demolition and impact on Manly CBD – new car park built to resolve this
Library option – existing library does not meet Library standards for LGA population
Traffic from Eastern Hill – no concerns or impacts – resolved
Cost and financials – self funding
Residents versus Tourist – both benefit
17. Councillor Burns presented an update on the Tram proposal which now is proposed to go in a ‘loop’ along Pittwater Rd, Belgrave St, East Esplanade, Victoria St, The Steyne, and Carlton St.
18. Concept Plans for the Aquatic Centre were presented. The current swim centre is not “sun safe’ and there are apparently problems with ‘separation’ in the reticulation system. This would be an approximately $15mil project. Expressions of interest would be call to build and operate the new centre which would include and ‘sun safe’ indoor 25m pool, training pool, gym/training room, underground carpark with double the number of spaces currently available, change rooms, shop and other facilities with access from the LM Graham sports fields.
Manly Council has now released the new traffic plan as a result of it's public exhibition period for the Manly 2015 Plan in September 2011. It includes a new car park under Manly Oval, the demoliton of the Whistler Street car park and the closure of Sydney Road from Belgrave Street to connect with the existing plaza. Central Ave, where the Post Office is, will become a cul-de-sac. This illustration is apparently copyright to Manly Council however in the interest of public consultation and information, we are reproducing it here:
What do yo think of the new plan? How will it affect you?
New rules to be enforced from 20 May to limit residents putting waste on the pavement rather than within bins, has been put on hold following strong opposition from residents.
Locals in particular from leafy suburbs of Balgowlah Hts, Seaforth and Clontarf jammed Councillors' in-boxes with emails of protest stating difficulty in getting bulky branches and excessive green waste into just one bin.
The matter is to be reviewed following further community consultation.
Mayor Jean Hay and her Liberal Councillors are moving at a great pace to proceed with the 2015 Plan which at its core entails the demolition of Whistler Street carpark (yes, it's an eyesore but still a valuable asset that holds 395 cars); the demolition and rebuild of Many Library and the building of an 800 space carpark under Manly Oval. The overall cost of the Plan? - $80million. Add this to the $15 million to upgrade the Manly Swim Centre and you are looking at total capital expenditure of $100 million.
Can Manly ratepayers afford this? No! Let's get real. We need to live within our means not be servicing borrowings of $100 million for years to come. I'm not persuaded this is good for Manly.
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.