As recently reported in the Manly Daily, Manly Councillors are working towards a compromise following their most recent workshop on the future of the Oval car park and Manly 2015 Plan.
The focus has shifted to the Whistler Street car park site, with discussions being held whether it should be retro-fitted (renovated) or pulled down and a replaced with a new car park complex.
Recent figures released by Council shows that the existing car park currently generates around $1m in revenue. Good for Manly has been pushing for the renovation option using examples from other car parks of a similar vintage which have been successfully retro-fitted. However, the size of the car parking spaces would need to remain as they are, due to structural constraints.
Redeveloping the site as a new parking station complex would also retain the site in Council ownership, with ideas such as including shops on the ground floor level and other commercial space on the top levels being explored.
All Councillors are in agreement that an important part of the Manly 2015 Plan is the revitalisation of the laneways, but the division has been over the building of a big car park under Manly Oval.
It is expected that a number of further workshops will be held over the coming months to explore options for the Whistler Street car park site.
What would you like to see there?
Hundreds of Manly residents took to the streets on Sunday in a huge display of public anger over Council plans to build a car park under Manly Oval. (Great coverage in the Manly Daily here.)
The crowd included the full spread of the Manly community, ranging from small children to business owners to older residents in mobility scooters - this group there to protest that the new car park would be too far from the shops for them to manage.
March organiser Candy Bingham of Good for Manly, who welcomed the crowd, drew the biggest response when she criticised Manly Council for its secrecy and lack of community consultation throughout the car park project.
Cr Bingham also cited the car park's cost - at least $34 million; the fact that it will be built in a flood plain; its distance from the CBD and the fact that the existing Whistler St car park, which is well used and well-situated, can be given a makeover rather than being pulled down. She said the oval car park had already been considered on three previous occasions and rejected as not financially viable each time.
Cr Bingham, accompanied by Manly's other independent Manly councillors Barbara Aird, Hugh Burns and Green’s Councillor Cathy Griffin, led the march procession past the oval site and Whistler St car park to Manly Town Hall. The big crowd, helped by a drummer and flautist, chanted "No oval car park. No massive debt" throughout the entire march before crowding into the square in front of the Town Hall building.
According to Cr Bingham the march was a huge success. She said over 700 people had signed the 'No Oval Car Park' petition on Sunday alone, and that the 650 people marched to show just how worried Manly locals are.
"We are not just a vocal minority," she said.
The four independent councillors hope the big turn out will convince their Liberal colleagues, who hold the balance of power, to take the community seriously and rethink the Oval Car Park plan.
A crucial vote to abolish the oval car park plan was lost 5 votes to 4 on Monday night (October 13) with the Liberal councillors stating the matter was “still in process”.
A clever parody of the anti-development song, Big Yellow Taxi by Jodi Mitchell, has been released on YouTube to promote the Protest March against the Manly Oval Car Park on Sunday afternoon 12 October. Called Big Oval Car Park, the song has locals in tune with the protest.
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.