Although many are under the impression that Manly Council has agreed to keep the Whistler Street car park and upgrade the Library - that was last month. Once again, things have changed.
Following on from a resolution moved by Clr Steve Pickering and Clr James Griffin an Expression of Interest (EOI) progress has commenced for the "opportunity to enter into a long term lease (the maximum term offered is 99 years) with Council to redevelop the strategic site .... generally bounded by Whistler Street, Market Lane and Library Place, Manly". Submissions close 12th June. 2015.
(Update: 12/6/15 .... At the EOI closing this afternoon, Council received 3 submissions to the EOI for Whistler Street Village Centre Redevelopment and 12 submissions to the EOI for Design and Construct Car Park Beneath Manly Oval.)
Respondents are invited to submit their interests and offers for at least two development scenarios. They are:
1. Redevelopment of the subject site in totality, which will include the building of a new library and offices for Council and in placed in Council's ownership under a separate stratum and with a total useable floor area of approximately 3,000 sq m.
2. Redevelopment of the subject site with the retention of and adding floor space to the existing library.
Although the EOI outlines that submissions should comply with Council's planning controls many believe that to provide the return on investment needed for such a redevelopment that developers would have to 'push the envelope' and a much higher building would need to be approved (or won in the Land & Environment Court).
The fundamental question still remains - why is Council continuing to push a project, which is linked to the creation of the Oval car park, when residents have clearly stated they don't want it and want to retain the more convenient location for parking. In addition, independent due diligence reports have clearly confirmed that the site would only be viable for developers if Council made the site suitable for the "biggest and best" use scenario
As Warringah Council pushes for One Northern Beaches Council, citing major savings should Manly, Warringah and Pittwater merge into one mega Council; Manly and Pittwater remain firm that they want to make it alone, stating they meet the criteria, except for population size, to do so.
Warringhah commissioned SGS Economics and Planning Pty Ltd to undertake an analysis on forming one mega Northern Beaches council. Manly & Pittwater commissioned KPMG to put their case that remaining independent was viable. The result has been that both reports tend to contradict each other. So who is right? Well it would seem to depend on which financial basis you have used.
With the assistance of Stephen Beckenridge, FAC; M Tax; MA, Good for Manly has reviewed both reports and a summary is below.
Recently the State Government announced that NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) has been appointed with the task of reviewing Council submissions due to lodged by June 30, however the criteria still does not seem clear. For example, are Councils required to have a population of around 250,000 to be "Fit For the Future"?
The real question remains however, what price can you put on true local government? While it can be argued that bigger provides potential cost savings, the true strength of local government is that is it just that, local. By creating mega Councils aren't we effectively just creating another regional, rather than local, administrative body?
What do you think?
Manly Council has called for Expressions of Interest (EOI) to build and construct a new car park under Manly Oval which will "accommodate at least 470 cars, but is designed to be expandable, with construction by others, to 760 spaces in the future".
This has surprised a number of Councillors who were expecting that the EOI would be for the original larger car park of 760 spaces, which Council has been stating from day one was what was needed; would be the most cost effective solution; and could be built for $34m.
"Once again this process is flawed", claimed Independent Councillor Candy Bingham. " We are now being told that 'based on the demand study, a car park with 470 spaces now and 760 in the future will deliver the "best value for money outcome” with the additional capacity not needed until 2030' she said.
So why the sudden switch to a smaller car park? Consider these facts:
1. Manly does not currently need additional parking.
2. The new smaller car park will only replace parking removed from the street, and parking currently
available in Whistler St (which is to be redeveloped for mixed use and apartments with no parking).
3. The cost of the smaller car park will be closer to the original budget of $34m.
4. Forecasts show that a larger car park will not be required until at least 2030.
5. A larger car park of 760 spaces is likely to cost $45m-$50m not $34m as originally budgeted.
“Even if the Council is successful in getting a long-term lease for the Whistler Street site to offset some of the cost of building a new car park under Manly Oval, the facts still remain. They are replacing a well-located, very profitable car park with a new car park further away which will carry a very large debt and major ongong operating costs.
“Why? There must be more to this than the vision of 'pedestrianising Manly'.” Clr Bingham said.
The EOI closes Friday 12th June with a report expected to come to Council in July 2015.
The environment license for North Head Sewage Treatment Plant is up for review, with public submissions a part of the review process.
The Plant serves nearly one million customers from Blacktown, along the suburbs north of the Parramatta River to the Northern Beaches. It treats on average 345,000 tonnes of wastewater every day.
Since the sewage plant began operations in 1986, the Manly community has criticised its failure to treat sewerage adequately before discharging it into the ocean. As well, offensive odours have been an ongoing problem and recently plant operator Sydney Water was named as the nation's biggest dumper of mercury - a heavy metal toxic to the marine environment.
While major sewage treatment plants in every other capital city in Australia perform a two or three stage treatment process, the North Head Plant carries out one stage only before releasing sewage into the ocean. And even this one stage - screening - is not a full treatment.
The screening process at North Head, which is meant to filter grease and solid material from sewage, only removes 30 % of this material, meaning that 70 % of sewage solids go straight into the ocean. And materials which are dissolved or suspended in the wastewater, nutrients such as phosphates and nitrates, and bacteria, viruses and parasites are not removed at all. This minimally-treated sewage is then pumped into the ocean 3km off-shore. In the USA and throughout the European Union this sort of pollution has been illegal for years. The bio-solids are trucked out of the area, twice a day, leaving a pong everywhere they travel.
But sometimes the sewage is not even pumped out to sea. Recently a severe storm coincided with a power outage. North Head plant has no back-up power generator, so it could not pump sewage off shore. Due to the storm, there was a big inflow of storm water which exceeded the capacity of its tanks. So the plant discharged minimally-treated sewage right at the North Head cliff face.
This is incredibly inappropriate anywhere, but it's outrageous at Manly which, along with the rest of the Northern Beaches area, is a major tourist attraction and one of Australia's most popular areas for swimming and surfing.
The State Government has made many promises to improve the quality of effluent discharged by the North Head Plant, including a promise twenty five years ago for full three-stage (tertiary) treatment of sewage at the plant. None of these promises have been honoured.
In a written submission Good For Manly has called on the licensing authority - the Environment Protection Authority - to address these problems in its assessment of the North Head Sewage Treatment Plant. Specifically, Sydney Water's license to run the plant should only be renewed if it commits to upgrading to full primary and secondary sewage treatment and to providing back-up power in the event of a power outage. As well Sydney Water must eliminate North Head's offensive odours and slash the amount of mercury discharged into our marine environment.
Good For Manly Cr Candy Bingham has asked Manly Council to formally write to local MP and State Premier Mike Baird asking, as a matter of urgency, for funds for a back-up power generator for the North Head Treatment Plant.
Update - Sydney Water Responded to our blog with the following comments:
· Sydney Water is the largest water utility in Australia servicing around 4.6 million customers across our area of operation. Our plants at North Head and Malabar are the largest in Australia, treating and safely discharging the waste of more than two million people every day, helping to protect the community and environment.
· In the 2013/14 financial year Sydney Water discharged a total of 30kg of mercury from North Head and 9.2kg from Malabar. This was reported in the latest data from the National Pollutant Inventory (NPI), which details omissions from over 4,300 industry facilities.
· The level of mercury discharged from North Head and Malabar in 2013/14 falls well within the licence limits of 60kg/yr at North Head and 103kg/yr at Malabar, which are set by the EPA and are implemented through the Environment Protection Licence for each plant.
· In fact, the concentration of mercury discharged is at least 10 times less what is considered safe to appear in drinking water and at no stage has Sydney Water breached its Environment Protection Licence. All of our plants adhere to strict environmental requirements set by the EPA, which are monitored and reported regularly.
· Sydney Water does not produce mercury however it is our responsibility to treat wastewater and trade wastewater that can include traces of mercury and other metals.
· This is a responsibility we take seriously, which is why we monitor our wastewater discharges for mercury and toxicity across our area of operation.
· We also undertake Ocean Sediment Monitoring to see if there is any impact on marine ecosystem health at our deep ocean outfalls.
· The program has been in place for over ten years with data showing no measurable impact on marine ecosystems. More information is available about this if interested.
North Head WWTP has a three step process: screening, grit removal and sludge removal.
Upgrading North head WWTP to a secondary or tertiary treatment is costly and would mean North Head WWTP has a far greater footprint (which would reduce the amount of National Park and possibly encroach on the North Head Sanctuary), uses significantly more energy and would have greater number of truck movements through Manly.
Additionally, ongoing monitoring of the ocean has failed to identify significant environmental differences between locations close to and remote from the deepwater ocean outfalls, which would indicate that the end product is not impacting on the local marine environment.
The screens at North Head remove upwards to 100% of material greater than 5mm in size and the primary sedimentation system removes around 30% of the organic solids from the process.
Plant Manager WWTP,
Sydney Water. 20/5/15
Manly Fast Ferry, now the sole operator from Manly Wharf following their successful tender last year, is moving fast to deliver on its promise of more services.
Two additional vessels have now been added to the fleet with four additional boats expected to be in service later this year.
Incat shipyard in Hobart has been commissioned to build two 24m catamarans and two 33m catamarans to be added to the Manly Fast Ferry fleet. The new designs will incorporate bike and surfboard racks and better wheelchair accessibility.
The number of services will increase to 538 a week, compared with 420 currently previously run by both operators. There will be 450 weekday services, up from 380, and more than double the number of weekend services, with 44 trips between Manly and the city.
Manly Fast Ferry co-director, Richard Ford said that since becoming sole operator of the fast ferry service on April 1, they have put on an extra 600 seats an hour on top of what was available perviously.
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.