The Manly 2015 Plan is ambitious to say the least and with Capital Works expected to cost around $100m in the next four years to deliver a number of projects, alarm bells are starting to ring.
Top of the list is the proposed car park under Manly Oval which KPMG have costed around $40m (against Council's estimate of $33m). Next is the demolition of the Whistler Street car park and 18 year old Library with part of the site to be sold to developers for retail and apartments and the Library rebuilt (add another $35m). Then you have $15m for public domain works and a further $15m for the upgrade of the Manly Swim Centre.
But is this ambitious 'Vision' a potential nightmare for Manly ratepayers. The oval car park development in particular is a high risk proposal. The Council's revenue-generating figures are based on 600 cars, every day of the year, paying $15 each ..... and if you include the two hour free parking option, then the car park will barely cover its operating costs, let alone pay-off the debt.
An important point to remember - Council's have unlimited liability, as the ratepayers of these Council's have discovered:
Does Manly really need to be redeveloped? We don't think so! So much can be done to revitilise the area for a more modest , low-risk budget. Our 'Local's Plan' is just one approach. Why can't Council present another option - that is what could we do if we kept the Whistler Street car park & Library? I know a number of local architects who have plenty of great ideas.
What would you do?
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.