council news

Samson, in the tent or not?

Below is a letter submitted to the Fremantle Herald (but not published) taking up the issue of Samson's place in local government reform:

Kaye Land (Herald Letters, August 24) is correct that the City of Fremantle's submission to the local government review process proposed to transfer Samson and parts of O'Connor to Melville by creating a greater Fremantle with Stock Rd as its eastern boundary.

Councillor Bill Massie and I advocated retaining Samson, with Bill suggesting that the City make a more ambitious proposal for a greater Fremantle extending all the way to North Lake Rd. However the majority of council chose to stick with the Stock Rd option.

Ironically the state government's disregarding of the City of Fremantle proposal in favour of a holus bolus merger with Melville gives us another opportunity to consider the creation of a greater Fremantle that includes Samson and more.

While I'm convinced Samson does belong with Fremantle, what matters most is what Samson people themselves want.

In the community survey conducted earlier this year 42% of Samson residents voted in favour of Options A and B which involved a straight out merger of Fremantle and Melville, while 42% voted for Options D and E which would see Samson stay with Fremantle.

In the middle 17% voted for Option C which corresponds to the proposal the City made to the local government review process.

Progress towards a bike friendly Freo

We're starting to make substantial progress towards transforming Fremantle into a bike friendly place. In 2009-10 the City only spent a pitiful $39,000 on bike infrastructure. But since then the annual spend has been increased to over $400,000 per year.

Necessarily most of the works in these first few years has concentrated on fixing problems around the CBD. With this done we can start shifting some of the expenditure east. The 2013-17 Bicycle Plan adopted at the July meeting of council includes around $90,000 to create a dedicated bike crossing of Carrington St at the Lefroy Rd-Rennie Cres intersection.

Currently there are no safe crossing points across Carrington St between Marmion St and Winterfold Rd. A crossing at this point would effectively connect Hilton Primary School, the Hilton Community Centre, the Dick Lawrence reserve, the Beaconsfield shops and the South Fremantle SHS on one axis.

After journeys into the CBD, it's short trips like this where there is the greatest potential to shift people from car to walking and cycling. A big thanks to the Freo Bicycle Users Group and the Mayor for their support.

Access ramps for our swimming pools

If you use the Leisure Centre you'll know that it's closed for six months for a major $3.3 million upgrade including re-tiling and a geothermal heating system. Also both the 25 and 50 metre pools are going to have full access ramps installed. This will make them a whole lot more accessible, and not just for people in wheelchairs, but for everyone dealing with the reduced mobility that comes with age. I know people who, while not regarding themselves as having a disability, simply can not use the ladders.

I'm passionate about about making Fremantle more inclusive of people with disabilities and improving the Leisure Centre was a priority of mine when I first ran for council. At a Disability Services Commission event I became aware of a Department of Sport & Recreation grant that the City could apply for to co-fund the project which it did. A big thanks to fellow councillors for supporting this project.

Parks & Play Spaces

The July council meeting adopted the 2013-16 Play Spaces Plan which seeks to prioritise equipment and upgrades for our various parks, categorising them as either "major" or "local" play spaces. It identifies Griffiths Park as the major play space for Hilton with the others (Collick Reserve, Grigg Park and Moorni Boorne) being local play spaces.

The need for a new park and play equipment servicing residents in the northern part of Hilton (north of South St) was acknowledged. This has been raised by residents before.

A new park would be best located somewhere central to the precinct it's meant to serve. Years ago the City proposed to block off a portion of Marimont St to make this possible but a backlash from residents who wanted to keep the street open stopped it. A suggestion has been that the City acquire some land from Anchor Foods on Clarke St and combine it with the verge. What do you prefer?

The plan proposes new play equipment for Plane Tree Grove in O'Connor and the improvement of the equipment in Samson Park. Meanwhile a resident has also suggested fitness equipment for Samson Park. What do you think?

The plan proposed some places where equipment might be removed and not replaced at the end of its life, including the Collick Reserve. However because there was so little community feedback on the plan an amendment was passed requiring any decision to remove play equipment to be brought to council. Do you or people you know use the Collick Reserve? If so let me know.

Bannister St, a low-income housing opportunity

The Bannister St site carpark site is being prepared for sale by the City. The City can attach sale conditions to the tender and the June council meeting accepted my ammendment to include a 15% social housing component. This begins, in a small way, to make up for the significant loss of social housing caused by the Departments of Housing's closure of the Warders Cottages and the Burt St sites.

Local government amalgamations

The new Minister for Local Government has confirmed that the October 2013 council elections will go ahead. However he indicated that the mayors and councillors would be sacked eighteen months into their terms with administrators appointed to facilitate amalgamations. The strong rumour we're getting is that he favours amalgamating Fremantle with East Fremantle and Melville. I hope this is not true.

You'll remember that in the survey of residents a narrow majority of Samson respondents favoured amalgamation with Melville, while an overwhelming majority in the rest of Fremantle rejected this option, rising to 69% against in Hilton. In all suburbs residents favoured a direct referendum on any proposed amalgamations or boundary changes. I suspect a whole lot of community pressure will needed to ensure residents get to have their say.

Esplanade Youth Plaza

There's been a lot of heat in the local press about the Youth Plaza to be built on the Esplanade. Below is a letter I submitted to the Fremantle Herald on the topic (but not published):

Despite all the heat and hyperbole over the Youth Plaza, there remains some criticisms of it which still needs to be rebutted.

I'm sensitive to the loss of unstructured open green space. However in this case I don't think the argument holds. At the recent Concert for the Kimberley, with over 20,000 in attendance, the slice of park next to the railway where the facility will be built was still largely empty.

It's been suggested that the the Youth Plaza could go on the car park adjacent to the Italian Club instead. But even if we were to annex this car park to the Esplanade as "compensation", it doesn't logically follow that this would be the best place for it.

Furthermore there's a good case that it would be better to green the car park at other end of the Esplanade so as to connect it through to Bathers Beach.

To be sure $1.6 million is a lot of money, even if $600,000 of that is coming from Lotterywest, and yes funds are going to be taken from the 2013-14 general play spaces budget to help pay for it. But let's put this big upfront capital expenditure in a bit of context.

PCYC to manage Hilton Community Centre

The May council meeting agreed to a twelve month trial lease in which the PCYC will be responsible for managing all the spaces at the Hilton Community Centre. The rooms will still be available for hire to community groups and the council employee currently based in Hilton will continue to manage programs from the Meeting Place in South Fremantle. The arrangement will see the centre open and staffed more in the evening.

The PCYC is looking for community members to join its committee. For more information contact Rebecca Slavin at fremantlepcyc@wapcyc.com.au or 9314 3157. Meanwhile a big thanks to everyone who donated to me and others participants in the recent PCYC fund-raiser.

Progress with Main Roads on Hilton Town Centre

On May 10 City of Fremantle representatives met with MainRoads to discuss the Hilton Town Centre. MainRoads commissioned a consultant to sketch some extensive street-scape concept plans; including underground power, light poles with banners, sculptural features, themed street furniture, trees, new footpaths, red bitumen and more.

However MainRoads has not yet put aside money for the project, and some measures such as putting high voltage power underground are very expensive. At our next meeting MainRoads will come back with a figure to be complemented by money from the City and hopefully developer contributions. When that happens we will have a sense of how much we can afford to do and be able to begin a proper community consultation process.

Hilton town centre project inches forward

On May 10 councillors and city engineers will be meeting with Main Roads to discuss plans for serious street-scaping in and around the Hilton shops on South St. This is a long overdue opportunity to make this area a proper town centre to the benefit of residents and local businesses.

Hopefully Main Roads (who have control over the road reserve) can be convinced that the main emphasis has to be on making a much more people friendly environment (for pedestrians and cyclists, more street trees and so on) and not just an exercise in traffic management. Most importantly the whole process has to be be subject to an extensive and genuine process of community consultation.