PROTESTERS at the No Oval Car Park rally packed the oval grandstand today.
The crowd of more than 600 expressed their anger at Manly Council that their voices had been ignored. But their rates would be used anyway for a car park that’s high-risk, in the wrong place, and not needed anyway.
You can view of short video of the event here.
The next step was clear - a call for intervention from a higher power.
The crowd unanimously endorsed a call to local MP and State Premier Mike Baird to act now to block the oval car park scheme.
Guest of honour on the day was environmental warrior Jack Mundey, who has come out of retirement to help save Manly’s oval and “village green”. In a huge show of support, Mr Mundey pledged to call for a “green ban” on car park development work, if the council persisted with its plan.
Speakers included Rob Burgess - formerly Manly town planner, a town centres specialist and the man behind the push to list the oval on the State Heritage Register; David Barr - former Manly State MP and councillor; and Candy Bingham - rally organiser, president of Good For Manly, and current Manly Councillor.
Mr Burgess blasted the council for clinging to “a crazy notion that has already been rejected three times”. Arguments against the car park include the location of the oval in a natural water course and the fact that Sydney Rd is too narrow to be used for the proposed entry and exit ramps.
“Sydney Rd is a major arterial road and no work can be done on it without the approval of the RMS,” Mr Burgess said.
“To put in car park access ramps, the RMS require a road reserve width of 30m - but Sydney Rd is only 18m wide. So the ramps can’t go in unless you remove half the rugby field.”
He said that access ramps would also turn the road from four lanes to two, and “create a traffic jam as far up as Balgowlah shops”. It’s another Kenneth Rd disaster waiting to happen,” he said, referring to the traffic chaos that has resulted from the council’s swim centre upgrade work.
Second speaker David Barr also cited the council’s disastrous project management record.
“The swim centre development is a bloated monstrosity with a bloated budget to match” he said.
“It’s a vanity project for people with big egos.
“These same people are planning to wreck our heritage oval.” He warned that the oval car park would only be the beginning of the development work, with a club complex for Mounties bowling club and a shopping complex along Belgrave Rd all in the mix.
Mr Barr called out the Manly Chamber of Commerce, who support the oval car park project, for failing to represent the Manly business community. “In Manly 70 - 80% of businesses don’t belong to it,” he said.
“It’s a few rich developers - that’s all it is. “They don’t represent small business. They have another agenda.”
Cr Bingham summed up the mood of the Manly community to the car park plan
“This is the message that I’ve heard,” she said. “We don’t want it. We don’t need it. We can’t afford it. “So why are the Liberal councillors pushing this so hard?”
Cr Bingham said the Good For Manly alternative was to “work with what we’ve got.”
“We can beautify Whistler St car park with green walls, murals, or at least a coat of paint. We can open up the parking area out the front and link it to the Market Plaza and library. Then we get rid of the ugly fire escape in front of the library, and connect up the whole area in a big plaza.
“It would cost about $5 M, it wouldn’t destroy anything and it would keep customers and car parking in the right place for local businesses.”
Cr Bingham called on the crowd to support her call for Mike Baird to intervene. Protesters also signed post card to be delivered to the MP begging him to act. An easy course of action for Mr Baird would be to call a moratorium on all major new council projects ahead of council amalgamations to be announced later this year.
Residents, who were then invited to have their say, ranged from young school student Sofia, to former rugby player Jack Steggall.
The crowd was entertained with music from the band “Ulterior Motive”. And despite terrible weather for the entire previous week, it didn't rain at all.
"The more opposition there is, the more determined I am," Mayor Jean Hay
The unpopular oval car park and the Whistler St car park re-development are likely to go to tender next month. And yet this current, high-risk, plan only provides for an additional 40 car parking spaces in Manly's CBD. Why are the Liberal Councillors pushing this?
It's 12 month's since an estimated 1,000 people marched against the Oval Car park ... We Can Still Stop It
Opposition from residents, businesses (see related story below), almost all our community precincts and the four non-Liberal councillors, continues to be ignored.
Or as Mayor Jean Hay summed it up for the public gallery at the August’s council meeting: the more opposition there is the more determined I am to go ahead anyway.
But despite Mayor Hay's determination not to represent us, our voices have still been heard.
Several times Cr Hay has said that If it wasn't for Cr Candy Bingham and the Good For Manly team, the oval car park would be built by now. She means it as a criticism, but really it's an admission that, even in Manly, the council eventually has to listen to the people.
1. Sydney Rd, where the car park entry and exit ramps will need to be built, is a major road controlled by the RMS. Permission to proceed will be needed from the RMS, but no request has been made from the council so far. Even worse, Sydney Rd - at 18m wide - is way below the 31m road width required by the RMS before access ramps can be approved. Does the council plan to slice 13m off the oval, grandstand and park? Or are they planning a 'Kenneth Road' solution which locals have found unsafe and unworkable?
2. Manly Council is now claiming that "The Masterplan can be delivered without the need for any long term loan, and will be fully funded by the commercial ratepayers of the Manly CBD and from the long term lease of the new Village Centre site development - the Whistler Street car park site". Not according to the calculations of an independent report. The Masterplan will in fact cost us $40 million over the next 20 years! See financial report below.
The Manly community, led by Cr Bingham, has stopped the car park so far. And we have to act again now, to stop tenders being locked in for a project we don’t want, and don't need.
Good for Manly is holding a protest rally on Sunday 27th September, 3pm at Manly Oval, to give the community a forum to demonstrate the strong opposition to the car park scheme.
Legendary Enviromental Activist, Jack Mundey, has come out of retirement to support the Manly Community with this fight.
The protest is support by Manly Independents Clrs Barbara Aird and Hugh Burns and Greens Clr Cathy Griffin.
More details here.
This is why:
1. The $40 M car park will provide 40 extra car spaces. By our calculation that's $1million per space. Clearly not a good use of our money. (see report below).
2. The new car park is in the wrong place. It’s too far from the shops for the elderly, or anyone with small children or lots of gear. It’s also a long way from the beach. It is likely to be a car park of last resort, after the on-street spaces, and the council’s three other car parks are full.
3. The project is high risk. Not all the figures are available for public scrutiny but what we’ve seen doesn't stack up. No provision seems to have been made for the entry and extra ramps, the ventilation stacks or the extra cost of building in a flood plain with part of the car park lying under the water table. No costs have been made public about relocating and reinstating the Cricket and Rugby club's facilities.
4. The debt. Our independent experts say the oval car park will cost about $40M to build. KMPG estimated leasing the Whistler St site will generate about $15M. That leaves a $25M hole. More if the car park runs over budget, or generates less than expected in income. We are already in debt for an major indoor swim centre development which is believed to be 30% over budget.
5. It's our village and our money, but our voice has not been heard. There has been no genuine community consultation, the decision-making process has been obscure and important public information has been hidden behind "commercial-in-confidence" claims.
6. We will lose control of land in the heart of the village. Whistler St car park site, which currently generates around $1m in profit each year, is to be leased for 99 years to pay for the oval car park. Developers are bidding for high-rise apartments and shops. We do not want to lose this asset.
What Are the Alternatives?
1. We can beautify and revitalise Manly village cheaply and without fuss. We don’t need to sell off Whistler St and dig up the heritage oval. Good For Manly supports the plan to limit traffic in the CBD, and re-pave and open up our laneways for cafes, bars and shops. Lets start by doing that.
2. We don’t have to pull Whistler St car park down. We can renovate it with vertical gardens or murals, and modernise it including a new lift. Lets have the discussion.
3. We can improve the library and surrounds, by removing the ugly external fire-escape and opening up the plaza. Lets have the discussion.
4.. We can generate more car parking in our CBD, simply by managing our existing car parks better. They are not well sign-posted, so many people don’t even know they are there. As well there is currently a bizarre practice of putting up the “Full” sign, when lots of car spaces are still free. Lets have the discussion.
If you agree, or would like to know more, be sure to come to the Protest Rally on Sunday, 27th September, 2015.
Want the Council's view? Go to their website here to see the pretty pictures they won't allow us to show you!
Have a look at Good for Manly's ideas on what we can do to revamp the Whistler Street car park in this slideshow. Very cost effective way to use existing infrastructure that simply needs a renovation. What do you think?
Manly businesses don’t want a car park under the sports oval, nor do they want the Whistler street car park demolished for shops and apartments.
That’s the shock result of a survey conducted by Good For Manly on attitudes to the Manly CBD masterplan.
As well as opposition to the oval car park, the survey of over 200 small ground floor Manly businesses found overwhelming opposition to the demolition of the Whistler St car park, and to further pedestrianisation of the CBD resulting in loss of on-street parking and the closure of Sydney Rd. But the businesses did support the planned Manly Library revamp.
The results are a surprise, as the businesses’ peak body - the Manly Chamber of Commerce - staunchly supports the oval car park/Whistler St development.
And businesses that were members of the Chamber of Commerce did look at the project more favourably. But even in the Chamber group support for the oval car park/Whistler St plan ran at less than 50%. However the Chamber businesses liked the idea of more pedestrian zones and, like the overall group, supported the library redevelopment plan.
The survey was carried out last month, and involved face-to-face contact with 214 businesses in the Manly CBD. Only ground floor businesses were included, and because contact needed to be made with either the business owner or manager, most large businesses such as banks, pubs and chain retailers like Suzanne, could not take part.
Businesses were asked to reply “Support”, “Don’t support”, or “Don’t know” to these five questions:
1. Manly Council now plans to build a 500 space car park at Manly Oval to replace the Whistler St car park. The Oval car park will provide a minimal number of additional parking spaces.
2. Council plans to demolish the Whistler St car park and lease the site for 99 years to be redeveloped for shops and apartments. There will be no public parking on this site.
3. Council plans to refurbish/rebuild the Library with an additional two floors of community space.
4. Council plans to remove 100 parking spaces on the street to further pedestrianise Manly’s CBD.
5. Council plans the closure of Sydney Road from Belgrave St to The Corso, and no through traffic in Central Ave, to pedestrianise Manly’s CBD.
This is the result:
Traffic flow in Manly's CBD will be radically changed as the Council rolls out its Revitalise Manly Masterplan.
Work is set to start this month on the plan to pedestrianise Sydney Rd, with the ultimate goal of closing the road to traffic all the way from The Corso to Belgrave St.
Stage 1 of the project involves the pedestrianisation of Sydney Rd between Central Ave, where the pedestrian zone in Sydney Rd currently ends, and Whistler St.
The work will include new landscaping, and improved public seating, paving, street lighting and signage, in an effort to transform Sydney Rd into a new pedestrian friendly high street.
Other major changes will include:
1. Central Ave will become a two-way cul de sac, stopping at Sydney Rd. Trucks and vehicles longer than six meters will be banned after 8am.
2. Henrietta Lane will also become a two-way cul de sac. Trucks and long vehicles will be banned after 8am.
In pedestrianised areas delivery vehicles will be limited to the hours between 5am and 8am, and permitted on Market Lane, and on Sydney Rd between Henrietta Lane and Central Ave only.
While construction work is going on, delivery vehicles will be re-routed through parts of Sydney Road that are currently pedestrianised, and the eastern end of the Corso.
Stage 2 of the project, will involve the further pedestrianisation of Sydney Rd from Whistler St to Belgrave Rd, as well as changes to traffic flow and parking in Whistler St. No date has yet been set for this work which is subject to the final decision on the proposed construction of a car park under Manly Oval and redevelopment of the Whistler Street car park site for shops and apartments.
It’s Springtime and Manly’s flock of woven birds are still in flight.
The bright-coloured artworks are the creations of over 200 local knitters and weavers, working together in this year's Weaving Bridges Project.
The birds were spun onto specially-made metal frames as part of the Northern Beaches Garingal Festival of Aboriginal culture and heritage.
Birds are an important part of Aboriginal culture, and the project was set up to celebrate the unspoiled environment that was the ancestral home of the first Northern Beaches locals - the Kay-ye-my people.
Taking part were local school children, community groups and individuals, with creative leadership from Manly Environment Centre, the Northern Beaches Aboriginal Community, Warringah Council and Manly Community Centre.
The installation was opened in July by Manly Mayor Jean Hay, Warringah Mayor Michael Regan, and co-chair of Garingai Festival Committee Sue Pinckham.
The pelicans, penguins, black cockatoos and cormorants are still on Stuart Sommerville Bridge at the Queenscliff end of the ocean beach.
See them now, before they fly south for the Summer.
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.