Building a smaller car park under Manly Oval is not the solution according to Cr Candy Bingham following another workshop by Councillors. "It's a typical example of a committee designing a horse", she said.
Building a smaller car park under Manly Oval has emerged as the favoured option by councillors in a Manly 2015 workshop last weekend.
The good news is that councillors have recognised the value of the centrally-located Whistler St car park and agreed to retain it "indefinitely". They have also adopted Good For Manly's idea of refurbishing the car park building and converting its forecourt area into a pedestrian plaza. The car park will be retro-fitted with a new lift and fire stairs, and accessible parking spaces will be relocated nearby or on the first floor. The exterior will also be jazzed-up.
However the majority of councillors remain wedded to the oval car park proposal, but half the size as previously proposed.
The new proposal is for a car park with 460 spaces (down from 760 spaces), which would cost $30M. That works out to a massive $65,000 per car space.
Good For Manly councillor Candy Bingham said building a smaller car park under the heritage oval made no financial or logistical sense.
"The previous KPMG assessment of the viability of a new oval car park was on the basis that costs would be underwritten by the transfer of parking revenue from the Whistler St car park and the sale of the site," Cr Bingham said. "That no longer applies and the total cost of $30m would need to be borrowed."
She called for a new parking demand study based on the changed scenario. Such a study should determine if the car park would function as anything other than an overflow car park, used only on days of heavy demand. It should also clarify the huge cost of such a facility.
As well there are operating costs of $250,000 a year (based on comparable underground car parks) and debt payments of $1.8M a year (based on borrowing the entire $30m at an interest rate of 5%). The car park would therefore have to generate $2.050M a year just to cover costs.
Cr Bingham said this is unlikely given that the debt-free Whistler St car park, which has 342 low-maintenance spaces in the heart of the CBD, makes a profit $1m a year.
Major problems, including the distance of the oval from the beach and the CBD, and the expense of building a car park in a flood plain, remain.
And there is now an additional difficulty. Building half a car park under half the oval means that water drainage will be dramatically different between the two halves. What that will do to the playing surface, or the cricket pitch, is anyone's guess.
"The council retaining Whistler St car park is a good decision," Cr Bingham said. "But Good For Manly can not support spending $30M on a poorly-positioned car park when the need has not even been demonstrated."
Candy Bingham, Former Councillor Manly Council. Background in marketing, public relations & community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.