Two major projects were announced by the Northern Beaches Council this week utilising $14m allocated for major projects that improve community infrastructure and services, provided by the State Government as a result of the amalgamation of the three former Councils.
Connecting the Northern Beaches
An iconic coastal walkway from Palm Beach to Manly will be created over the next two years connecting existing walkways with an additional 8km of new pathways and 14km of shared pathways. The 36km walkway will include an extensive council-wide cycle way and shared path network connecting with the B-Line (bus service). Total: $22.3m.
Connecting all through Play
This comprises firstly, the creation of a regional network of inclusive accessible playgrounds including two major new all abilities playgrounds at Manly Dam and Lionel Watts Reserve Frenchs Forest, and upgrades to play areas across the northern beaches to make them more inclusive. Total: 6.3m.
And secondly, further funding for the upgrade of sporting facilities and Surf Life Saving Clubs for priority upgrades to improve accessibility, inclusiveness and the critical role of surf lifesavers. Total: $4m.
The first round of Commuity Grants, totalling $537,690, were also announced with 25 community organisations receiving funds to support various projects ranging from bushcare to social impact programs. It was noted that about 1/3 of the grant funds were allocated to programs for those with disabiliies.
You can download more details on each of these projects from the documents below:
At the nextNorthern Beaches Council meeting (9/8/16) the Community Engagement process will be announced with 11 Strategic Reference Groups to be appointed for the next 12 months, until the new Council is elected in September 2017.
These groups will replace former council committees. They are:
Economic Strategic Reference Groups
1. Affordable Housing
2. Economic Development & Tourism
3. Place Making
Environment Strategic Reference Groups
4. Natural Enviroment
5. Waste & Recovery Management
6. Sustainable Transport
Social Strategic Reference Groups
7. Art, Culture & Heritage
8. Community Safety
9. Inclusive Communities
10. Open Space & Recreation
11. Northern Beaches Youth
The Groups will be formed through an Expression of Interest (EOI) process to be advertised shortly.
Each group will comprise representatives from the community, local experts and former Councillors and Mayors.
Members of the community are encouraged to apply to be part of the working committees, which will be in place for the next twelve months until the the Council elections in September 2017. Details will be on the Northern Beaches Council's website shortly. It is expected that each committee will have 12 community members and up to three former Councillors.
Fate of Manly's Resident Precinct Forums
Unfortunately the previous Resident Forum groups supported by Manly Council will no longer be recognised, or supported by Council, in their current form.
In response a number of the existing Precinct Forums have reformed as Community Forum Groups. This includes Clontarf, North Harbour Reserve, Ivanhoe and Little Manly which has merged with Fairy Bower and The Corso to represent the Eastern Hill.
The list of existing resident groups already operating in the old Warringah and Pittwater Council areas is extensive. It therefore has been decided by the new Council to invite all community groups and associations to register with the Council which will enable them to continue to play a role in council decision making.
Council Engagement Process
Raising issues with council will be via Customer Request either via email or over the counter, and will be dealt with directly by the relevant business unit. Regular email updates will also be provided.
It's a disappointing outcome for the Manly's Resident Precinct system which has provided direct access and input to council over the past 25 years as as proven and effective way for interested residents to have a say. However, it is pleasing to see that the majority of the Precincts have reformed into Community Groups and are expected to continue to be as effective as ever in dealing with the issues and needs of their areas.
One advantage will be that these groups will remain independent. When controversial issues are before Council this will mean the Council will no longer be able to dictate, threaten or attempt to control the decisions of the group. This was clearly the case with the Oval Car park plan under the former Manly Council.
What do you think of this new approach?
Growing pains being experienced by Manly Village School has put pressure on the Department of Education with the school exploding from an initial 200 pupils to more than 600 students enrolled in the school - and growing.
It is understood that the Department of Education & Communities is undertaking 'a broad scoping exercise' (not my words!) to find ways to best accommodate future students at Manly Village School.
At one stage it was feared that the Manly Community Centre in Wentworth Street would be given notice to make way for more classrooms. However, their lease has now been extended until December 2015 which offers a reprieve, for now.
The Centre provides valuable services including information, counselling, financial and legal advice, housing assistance as well as bilingual migrant specialists, domestic violence caseworkers, and a Justice of the Peace - the name just some of the services. The current location and facilities offered by the Community Centre are considered an important part of the Manly Village. It was community-funding that contributed around $1/2million to 'save' the building which was previously in a derelict state. Numerous repairs and restorations of the MCC building have taken place over the years. This includes the restoration of the heritage hall in 1999 and the restoration of the building to its original heritage condition.
Find out more here
Great news that the old Seaforth TAFE site, which has been purchased by Manly Council, is currently undergoing a major clean-up in readiness for the community to once more use the space.
It will be interesting to see what is proposed for future uses.
What community activity would you like to see there?
Should Manly ratepayers subsidise child care to the tune of $500,000 pa for 125 families using our facilities? This is a question being asked as the cost of providing such facilities seem to be spiraling out of control.
Local families may be faced with fee increases from $6 - $14,000 per year per child depending upon how many days they use the facility.
Proposed increased fees by Council have been agitated by new federal initiatives in staff pay increases and child-to-teacher ratios which, while highly desirable, are making child care costs unsustainable and impossible for many families. What do you think should be done?
It's been a long time coming but finally the future of the old Seaforth TAFE site is assured with the site recently acquired from the Dept of Education by Manly Council for just $4.46m . Well done Manly Council!
The well-below market value price is on the proviso that the site be used for community purposes.
What community services would you like to see it used for?
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.