In a victory for people power, Balgowlah Heights residents have forced Telstra to abandon its plan to build a mobile phone tower in the suburb.
For over a year the telco has been trying to install a new antenna in the area to improve mobile phone reception but strong opposition from local residents and a well-organised campaign by the Balgowlah Heights Precinct group has been successful in stopping the tower.
Telstra's initial choice of a site at New St West, only a few blocks from the local public school, enraged the community.
Manly Council barricaded the New St West site and in January a resident chained himself to a pole during a determined community campaign that eventually forced Telstra to look for another tower location.
The telco's subsequent choice of Balgowlah Bowling Club was also rejected by residents, as it would still have been too close to the school, as well as to surrounding homes.
In October Manly Council unanimously voted against giving Telstra permission to build a tower on the club site.
Balgowlah Heights Community Precinct and Manly Council suggested nearby Tania Park as an alternative site, but the telco said it was not suitable.
Recently Telstra admitted defeat. In a letterbox drop to residents the telco said it had "exhausted all feasible options" to improve mobile phone coverage in the area. Telstra apologised to its customers but said it understood "the importance of listening to the community". (See copy of letter below)
Good For Manly congratulates Manly Council, Balgowlah Heights Precinct and local residents who put good health ahead of good phone reception.
Seaforth's abandoned TAFE site will finally return to life with Manly Council set to sign a redevelopment deal.
The council and healthcare provider Bupa Care Services are close to an agreement on converting the existing building into a a 76-bed aged care facility.
Bupa finance director David Warren said the new facility would be state-of-the-art and be one of the first in Australia to have its own dedicated GP.
The 5000 sqm site will also house a community hub and meeting spaces, including a reading room, to be provided by Manly Council. The council will also build collaborative workspace for technology innovation, while Bupa will provide additional community facilities.
Seaforth TAFE was closed in 1999 despite fierce community opposition. The site has remained untenanted ever since with the buildings becoming hopelessly vandalised and run down.
Last year Manly Council purchased the site from the State Government for the markdown price of $4.5 million (for a site valued at $11 million) on the condition that it would be used for community purposes.
The council has since undertaken a major clean-up and rejuvenation of the site and has been seeking an anchor tenant to move into the building with the view that their contribution would subsidise the provision of general community facilities in part of the building.
Good for Manly congratulates the council on its work so far to transform this former eyesore into a workable community space with the creation of the Seaforth Piazza and other community facilities to come.
What would you like to see on the new community site? Let us know here.
Objections from the Precincts to the Manly Oval Car Park & Boy Charlton Swimming Centre Developments has been meet with a hostile response from Manly Council.
Read the Precincts letter sent on 28 October and then the response from Council received on the 7 November and you be the judge:
Firstly, here is a copy of the statement prepared by the Joint Precincts Group:
"The majority of Precincts have major concerns about the financial viability of the Manly Oval Car Park & the ‘Boy Charlton’ Swimming Centre developments.
Manly Oval Car Park
Based on an informative document on the Manly Oval car park viability prepared by Peter Greentree, a local resident with an extensive background in financial analysis and project evaluation using information available on the existing car parks in Manly and the information provided by Council from the KPMG Report to residents, the Precincts believe that it is not feasible to continue with the Manly Oval car park development.
As a result of this report & other issues on this matter expressed by Precincts, residents (many qualified in accountancy, major project financing and/or engineering) and the Manly Chamber of Commerce, the Precincts are concerned that:
We request that Council defers the Manly Oval car Park development and reviews the options for additional parking in Manly.
We understand that there are a number of options that could be considered.
The Precincts would like to work with Council to develop these options.
Boy Charlton Swimming Centre
The Precincts do not understand why Council will not discuss this matter with them or take on board the suggestions/comments on this development. The Precincts have outlined a number of ideas that could be introduced to make this development more appealing, more viable & more ‘user friendly’.
However because of the short lead time on the DA for this project the Precincts have not had the opportunity to properly discuss their recommendations with Council.
This project is highly expensive and most Precincts have major concerns about Council’s projections that patronage will treble to service the cost. Precincts do not believe that the attendance figure is achievable which will result in the Council not being able to deliver enough income to service the loan.
We also have observed that in the Council’s Ten Year Financial Plan, ongoing investment in capital expenditure decreases significantly from recent years implying that Council will run down its asset base to fund Manly 2015 and Boy Charlton. This assumption is both unrealistic and unsustainable, delivering a substantially more positive outcome for Council’s projected financial position than will likely be the case.
The Precincts recommend that the procedure to upgrade the Swim Centre is slowed down to allow for further discussion on this development.
Precincts desire a meeting with Council to look at the total viability of the current project with a view of deciding on a less expensive & more appealing swim centre.
In summary, the Precincts believe that Council is ignoring prudent risk management principles by moving too quickly on these major developments without taking into account responses from Precincts & residents on the financial viability and on-going risks associated with such large capital outlays. We implore the Council to take on board our comments and to look more closely at each of these projects to determine what other options are available which would reduce the amount of money required for funding."
A business plan for Little Manly foreshore may help to keep the harbourfront land in public hands.
Manly Council voted this week to prepare a business case to help finance last year's purchase of No 40 Stuart St, which is ear-marked for demolition in the future to extend Little Manly park.
The council had previously resolved to sell two properties - Nos 34 and 36 Stuart St - in order to fund the $4.2 million purchase of No 40.
However the threat to public open space enraged residents who successfully took the council to the Land and Environment Court to block the sale.
At Monday's meeting the council voted to consider financial options including raising the timber house at 34 Stuart St and using the space underneath for a paid dinghy and kayak lock- up facility. The dwelling could be used, for example as The Manly Coastal Environment Centre, thus saving the rental on the groups' existing premises.
Deferring the transformation of No 40 into open space is also on the table, meaning the council could continue to receive rent from the property. Changing the council's loan on the property to interest-only repayments and increasing Manly's Environment Levy will also be considered.
While councillors welcomed the development of a business plan, Cr Barbara Aird expressed concerns that, despite everything, the future of the beachfront land is still not secure.
A motion, put by Crs Cathy Griffin, Hugh Burns and Aird to rescind an earlier decision to re-zone the Stuart St properties from 'open space' to 'residential' was deferred until next month. That means that the council's September decision to spot re-zone the four Stuart St properties on Little Manly beach, still stands.
The council's four independent councillors and residents' group Save Little Manly Foreshore see the re-zoning as an attempt to circumvent the Land and Environment Court "no sale" ruling.
Good For Manly councillor Candy Bingham welcomed the business plan proposal and congratulated Manly residents who fought to keep the land in public hands, particularly the Save LIttle Manly Foreshore Group and Cr Aird who fought for the vision for years at Manly Council.
But she criticised the council for "wasting $200,000 of rate payers' money" in the Land and Environment Court.
Council staff will now prepare a business case to be considered at next month's meeting. That meeting should also vote on the re-zoning rescission motion.
Concerns about the scale, cost and design of the proposal have been expressed by community groups, including Manly precincts (resdients' groups) and the Northern Beaches Breakers Water Polo Club, which trains at the pool.
Manly precints' joint meeting last month described the swim centre plan as "not addressing community needs". The meeting asked the council to consider other options "with a view to deciding on a less expensive and more appealing swim centre".
The Manly Access Committee, which considers the needs of people with disabilities, and the Breakers club, which missed out on a dedicated water polo pool, also want the plans reviewed.
Cr Bingham said the Swim Centre proposal had been rushed through with minimal time for consultation. She said the new building would not interact in any way with the adjacent reserve, there was an "unbelievable" lack of change room facilities and that the proposal for five swim pools was excessive.
Cr Bingham said she believed that the main driver for the rush was the council's eagerness to lock in a special state government loan. But the hurry was not necessary as State Treasurer and local MP Mike Baird had confirmed that access to the loan would be maintained even if the pool DA was delayed.
In 2012 Manly Council secured a state government-funded bank interest subsidy for its planned upgrade of the Andrew "Boy" Charlton Swim Centre. The Local Infrastructure Renewal Scheme grant will save the council about $3.5 million in interest, as the state government will pay the first 4 per cent interest on a $15 million loan for 10 years.
Alarm over figures for Manly Council's proposed new car park is behind a call for a fresh study into the $40 million project.
Good For Manly councillor Candy Bingham will ask Council to commission a new "revenue generating" forecast by financial services company KPMG at its next meeting on December 2, 2013.
This time the brief will be to use actual car park usage figures, including 75 per cent usage of free car spaces, as drivers take advantage of Manly's "two hours free parking" rule.
Cr Bingham said previous KPMG modelling had used the figure of 50 per cent use of free car parking, although the council's own surveys show free use actually accounts for 75 per cent of visits.
Cr Bingham is not alone in her concerns about the car park, which is part of the council's $80 million Manly2015 project. The Manly Chamber of Commerce, all the independent Manly councillors and Manly's precincts (residents' groups) are opposed to the plan in its current form.
Recently, four of Manly's respected long-term property owners also queried the viability of the oval car park.
Apart from worries over Manly 2015's financial viability, stakeholders are upset at the lack of public consultation on the plan and concerned that the car park will be moved further away from the CBD.
But Manly Council says the plan will bring Manly's lane ways back to life and remove traffic from CBD streets. It aims to create a "heart" for Manly based around a new library in Market Place, as well as demolishing the Whistler St car park and building a new 800-space car park under Manly oval.
Good for Manly fully supports the activation of laneways and creating a 'heart' for Manly in Whistler Street however we believe this can be done by revitalisation of existing infrastructure, rather than major redevelopment.
See related Manly Daily article at http://www.pressdisplay.com/pressdisplay/iphone/homepage.aspx#_article06cf8f9b-6153-40ef-8f8d-e2ac8a159ef5
Good For Manly councillor, Candy Bingham, was successful in getting to Council to undertake a feasibility study to examine the feasibility and implications for residents of adopting a car share policy providing permanent parking spaces for share cars in residential streets.
Cr Bingham said car sharing had become a popular and practical alternative to owning a car, particularly in areas like Manly where street parking is scarce. Research has shown that one shared car replaced 13 privately-owned cars once the concept became popular.
She said one Manly car sharing company currently had almost 700 members sharing 22 vehicles. The cars are located in designated pods (locations), such as Wood St and Pacific St, but do not have dedicated car spaces.
Cr Bingham said that encouraging car sharing in this way would actually free up car spaces in Manly as people elect not to have their own vehicle. She compared it to disabled parking spaces, which decrease the overall number of general car spaces available, but benefit the community as a whole.
Monday's council meeting voted to prepare a report on the feasibility and implications of the car sharing policy, using similar policies in Waverly and the City of Sydney as a guide.
Manly Council is set to scrap its popular General Clean Up Days. The popular service lets residents throw out their old and unloved gear and gives kerbside recyclers the chance to sort treasure from trash.
But the council says the street clean-up days encourage "illegal dumping of unwanted household goods" and plans to replace them with a new "on call" system.
The new service, which will start in 2014, will entitle households to two clean-up days a year, bookable online. Electronic waste will now also be included.
Do you think the "on call" service make our streets cleaner? Or will we lose recycling opportunities and an easy six-monthly throw-out service? Let us know.
New work by Sydney Water should improve air quality at the North Head Wastewater Treatment Plant. The government agency plans to replace the plant's odour scrubber - air pollution control system - which is near the end of its life. Sydney Water released a statement this month saying it will replace the existing scrubber with nine bio-trickling filters and replace or repair associated infrastructure including duct work, a water tank and ventilation stacks. Odour scrubbers function to remove particulates and/or gases from industrial exhaust streams, reducing odours and improving air quality.
The news will be welcomed by Manly residents, particularly in the Little Manly Precinct, who have regularly complained of bad smells from the plant. Sydney Water had previously said that the scrubber would not be replaced until 2015.
Sydney Water has prepared a Review of Environmental Factors which will be publicly available from Oct 23 to Nov 11 at Manly Council, Manly Library and Manly Environment Centre.
Information related to North Head odours and Manly's troubled existence with the sewerage treatment plant is below.
This Odour Map, from a recent Sydney Water presentation, shows the spread of odours from the North Head Wastewater Treatment Plant. 1OU (odour unit) means that about half the population can smell an odour.
A recent report from the NSW Ombudsman reveals poor maintenance and operational practices at the North Head Wastewater Treatment Plant and the difficulty in forcing the plant's owner, Sydney Water, to deal with the problem.
The report, dated August 2013, deals with complaints made by several people about strong sewage odours on North Head on February 24 2010. The odours were so bad that people reported headaches, sore eyes, dry retching and difficulty breathing. The symptoms suggested an emission of hydrogen sulphide gas, probably caused by the North Head Wastewater Treatment Plant operated by Sydney Water.
The matter was referred to the ombudsman's office after it was inadequately dealt with by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) - formerly the Department of Environment Climate Change and Water.
The ombudsman found that the original EPA investigation had raised a number of serious concerns, including "an apparent failure" by Sydney Water to properly maintain or operate the North Head plant and equipment. Record keeping at North Head, and training and supervision of staff were also found to be problematic.
However in October 2010 the EPA dropped the investigation without reaching a conclusion and without taking any action against Sydney Water.
The ombudsman's brief was not to investigate the original odour offence, but to consider how the EPA had dealt with it.
The report makes a number of recommendations aimed at helping the EPA force Sydney Water and other government agencies to comply with their environmental responsibilities. The ombudsman did not criticise the EPA's original investigation or take action against Sydney Water.
More information is available at sydneywatertalk.com.au
Let us know what you think? Should Sydney Water do more to make sure Manly's air and ocean outfall clean.
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.