It's been a long, determined campaign by the Save Little Manly Foreshore Group but finally they have won! Little Manly foreshore will stay in public hands, as it should.
This week Manly Council finally abandoned its plan to sell off precious public land at Nos 34 and 36 Stuart St.
It's a shame it took months of community opposition and a defeat in the Land and Environment Court to persuade Manly's Liberal councillors not to sell off our waterfront.
And it's a pity the Liberals wasted $200,000 of our money in court costs - especially when their argument for selling the properties was that they needed the money.
The two properties are next to the only harbour boat ramp in the area and are loved by kayakers, canoeists, windsurfers and scuba divers, as well as boaties.
The blocks were initially bought as part of a 40-year vision to increase open space at Little Manly beach, one of our harbourside gems.
So the council's February decision to rezone the land to residential so they could sell it off, enraged the Manly community and galvanised opposition to the council's Liberal voting block.
Mayor Jean Hay's line that the two blocks needed to be sold to finance council's recent purchase of No 40 Stuart St, was never credible.
Until its knockback in the Land and Environment Court, the council hadn't seriously explored other ways to fund the new purchase, - such as making better financial use of its existing Stuart St properties or using "Section 94" development contribution funds, some of which are required by law to be used for this exact thing - open space acquisition.
As well the council has no problem spending money elsewhere - it's planning a $16 million swim centre upgrade, and a lavish $80 million revamp to Manly's CBD including a $40 million car park under Manly oval. Both these issues have also been very controversial.
On Monday (9th December 2013) the council rescinded its decision to rezone Nos 34 and 36. That means the two blocks stay zoned as community open space. Finally! No 38, the only property the council does not own in the Little Manly block, is still slated to be rezoned as residential.
While some councillors and Save Little Manly Foreshore supporters are concerned about No 38 being rezoned to residential, Good for Manly believes the main battle has been won.
Good For Manly councillor Candy Bingham congratulates all the Manly residents who fought to keep the land in public hands, particularly the Save LIttle Manly Foreshore group, and formally acknowledges the major job undertaken by Cr Barbara Aird who fought for the vision for years at Manly Council.
Candy Bingham, Deputy Mayor & Manly Ward Councillor on Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations and community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.