PROTESTERS at the No Oval Car Park rally packed the oval grandstand today.
The crowd of more than 600 expressed their anger at Manly Council that their voices had been ignored. But their rates would be used anyway for a car park that’s high-risk, in the wrong place, and not needed anyway.
You can view of short video of the event here.
The next step was clear - a call for intervention from a higher power.
The crowd unanimously endorsed a call to local MP and State Premier Mike Baird to act now to block the oval car park scheme.
Guest of honour on the day was environmental warrior Jack Mundey, who has come out of retirement to help save Manly’s oval and “village green”. In a huge show of support, Mr Mundey pledged to call for a “green ban” on car park development work, if the council persisted with its plan.
Speakers included Rob Burgess - formerly Manly town planner, a town centres specialist and the man behind the push to list the oval on the State Heritage Register; David Barr - former Manly State MP and councillor; and Candy Bingham - rally organiser, president of Good For Manly, and current Manly Councillor.
Mr Burgess blasted the council for clinging to “a crazy notion that has already been rejected three times”. Arguments against the car park include the location of the oval in a natural water course and the fact that Sydney Rd is too narrow to be used for the proposed entry and exit ramps.
“Sydney Rd is a major arterial road and no work can be done on it without the approval of the RMS,” Mr Burgess said.
“To put in car park access ramps, the RMS require a road reserve width of 30m - but Sydney Rd is only 18m wide. So the ramps can’t go in unless you remove half the rugby field.”
He said that access ramps would also turn the road from four lanes to two, and “create a traffic jam as far up as Balgowlah shops”. It’s another Kenneth Rd disaster waiting to happen,” he said, referring to the traffic chaos that has resulted from the council’s swim centre upgrade work.
Second speaker David Barr also cited the council’s disastrous project management record.
“The swim centre development is a bloated monstrosity with a bloated budget to match” he said.
“It’s a vanity project for people with big egos.
“These same people are planning to wreck our heritage oval.” He warned that the oval car park would only be the beginning of the development work, with a club complex for Mounties bowling club and a shopping complex along Belgrave Rd all in the mix.
Mr Barr called out the Manly Chamber of Commerce, who support the oval car park project, for failing to represent the Manly business community. “In Manly 70 - 80% of businesses don’t belong to it,” he said.
“It’s a few rich developers - that’s all it is. “They don’t represent small business. They have another agenda.”
Cr Bingham summed up the mood of the Manly community to the car park plan
“This is the message that I’ve heard,” she said. “We don’t want it. We don’t need it. We can’t afford it. “So why are the Liberal councillors pushing this so hard?”
Cr Bingham said the Good For Manly alternative was to “work with what we’ve got.”
“We can beautify Whistler St car park with green walls, murals, or at least a coat of paint. We can open up the parking area out the front and link it to the Market Plaza and library. Then we get rid of the ugly fire escape in front of the library, and connect up the whole area in a big plaza.
“It would cost about $5 M, it wouldn’t destroy anything and it would keep customers and car parking in the right place for local businesses.”
Cr Bingham called on the crowd to support her call for Mike Baird to intervene. Protesters also signed post card to be delivered to the MP begging him to act. An easy course of action for Mr Baird would be to call a moratorium on all major new council projects ahead of council amalgamations to be announced later this year.
Residents, who were then invited to have their say, ranged from young school student Sofia, to former rugby player Jack Steggall.
The crowd was entertained with music from the band “Ulterior Motive”. And despite terrible weather for the entire previous week, it didn't rain at all.
Candy Bingham, 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.