"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!
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.