“The Duke” Newsletter January 2016

“THE DUKE “

January 2016 Update from The Friends of Freshwater Inc.

A very temperamental January, with wild thunderstorms, heavy seas, and hot and humid conditions. Sadly many annual camping holidays were washed out by this weather pattern. At South Curl Curl, beach sand is gradually returning with the presence of high tides and the arrival of nor-Easters driving sand back onto the beach. A similar experience is occurring at Freshwater Beach but too early for the Australia Day Surf Carnival with the March Past and beach sprinters requiring flippers to negotiate the high tides. Experts have predicted that this beach renewal process will take the best part of a year.

WHAT IS IT WITH ROCK FISHERMEN?

Yet another rock fisherman has been washed off South Curl Curl Headland and drowned while fishing in heavy seas. This sport has become among the most dangerous, with a high fatality rate.

This part of the coast is a popular fishing spot but is inherently dangerous. Many of the rock fishermen do not take basic safety precautions and when they get into trouble, lifeguards are often called to their rescue.

This rocky platform has a major rebound area, which even the strongest swimmer would find a challenge to negotiate. Many of these rock fishermen are not noted as strong swimmers. A recent tragic episode involved a fisherman who was swept off by a large wave and rag-dolled by the rebounding surf. A lifeguard risked his life in a vain attempt at rescue.

Basic safety requirements at this site should include cleated footwear, safety vests, clip on safety lines (as used by yachtsmen) and waterproof back to surf club communication equipment, and of course a large dose of common sense.

FRESHWATER VILLAGE CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS COME TO A GRINDING HALT.

SX Projects, the controversial construction company contracted to build both the 16 Unit “Kahana” and the 23 Unit “Freshwater” apartment developments has apparently gone into voluntary administration. 
It proudly advertises its motto of “ building made easy” but it appears to all concerned that it is anything but.

Contractors moved swiftly to remove their heavy construction equipment from the site for fear of it being caught up in any legal proceedings. The site is now largely clear of equipment on the ” Freshwater” site with even computers and other office equipment also removed.

Residents in Lawrence, Oliver and neighbouring streets could well have been woken at 2am on a Saturday morning by the noisy rumbling of these trucks carrying this equipment.

This is not the first time that SX Projects has gone into voluntary liquidation, with a simple Google search revealing a Smith Hancock Liquidator Report of 2014 confirming that a previous legal iteration (also called SX Projects) was liquidated in 2013 leaving creditors such as the Tax office; Office of State Revenue; Banks and other suppliers with unrecoverable amounts. SX Projects NSW was also at one stage a part of the collapsed Southern Cross Properties Group.

So far there has not been even one item of media coverage of this situation. Friends of Freshie alerted the community with a Facebook posting on the day after this situation occurred and more than 12,000 people viewed the post. Clearly there is a high level of community interest in the progress of this construction.

Royal Wolf Hire, an unsecured creditor from a previous occasion, still has its amenities equipment on site, including a steel pedestrian thoroughfare.

It is our understanding that as many as 9 construction sites are involved in the demise of SX Projects including the Spring Cove development in Manly.

One has to question the decision making of developers that contracted this builder, given its questionable building history?

Such construction companies are attracting the interest of ASIC, which is looking for “phoenix-like” legal characteristics.

Undoubtedly this will delay the Freshwater construction process as new builders are sought and contracted.  Local residents have observed Liquidators with clipboards, and other construction companies looking closely at the sites.

To date, much of the preliminary dilapidation work to protect the properties of nearby neighbours has yet to be completed. Neighbours were first approached in August last year, with a September 2015 start date. This would indicate that the project are already well behind schedule.

While all this is occurring, Moorgate Pty Ltd, the company that is developing the 18 Marmora site, has lodged its 5th modification to its DA.

Friends of Freshie has long been concerned about the ability of any constructor to deal with the amount of groundwater that moves across the site. Our community is well aware of this problem as the back area of the Growers site used to be regularly flooded in previous downpours, and testing at the former Bakers Delight shop found groundwater at less than a metre.

We conveyed these concerns to Council throughout the Planning process. Strangely, Sydney Water had no such concerns.

Currently there is a large body of water from recent downpours, trapped at the Marmora Street end, and unable to get away. We have been informed that this has now been “limed” so as to prevent mosquito infestation. However a children’s playgroup uses the Church and a fenced area immediately nearby.

Those that have bought apartments off-the-plan for both these developments will be anxious to gain further information on the implications of this situation for their purchases and the amended timeframe for completion of the projects.

Likewise, Village businesses, whose takings are down due to the absence of the popular Growers Market, will not want any further delays before the Village retrieves its sense of normality.

THE POWER OF A WELL-WRITTEN SUBMISSION

Never underestimate the power of a well-written submission. In 2015, Optus encountered a very determined Freshwater community when it located a 4G tower in a headland public park. 250 submissions were written and Optus had not previously encountered such a strident campaign, nor had our local member Mike Baird, who was marked into these submissions.  It is now busily relocating its tower.

When Warringah Council proposed the removal of a beachfront children’s playground it created outrage among families with young children. Council was unaware that this playground was so heavily valued and used by the community. Many well-written submissions later and it has been saved.

Friends of Freshwater has been writing submissions to Ausgrid and the State Government for the past 5 years seeking the removal of high voltage cabling in Soldiers Avenue, so as to preserve the integrity of heritage-listed trees in the WW1 Avenue of Honour.  In 2015, Ausgrid began the process of removing this cabling.

Jacka Park has never had public toilets but the Friends of Freshwater mounted a campaign of public submissions in 2015, and now a public toilet facility and baby changing room is being planned.

The recently completed Warringah Council Open Plan Strategy has now been ratified by Council, but its public consultation process for the whole of Warringah was dominated by public submissions from the Freshwater community, and to good effect with positive outcomes.

We have a well-earned reputation for putting pen to paper for the benefit of our community.

“IF IT AIN’T BROKE, DON’T FIX IT!”

The State Government has foreshadowed amalgamating our local councils into a two hybrid entities, which will see the demise of Warringah Council (recently adjudged as the best-performing LGA in NSW).

There is a well-worn organizational adage that “ if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and clearly the three Councils on the northern beaches are not broken by any measure. In comparison with the bulk of LGA’s across NSW, few would argue with the fact that these Councils are well administered, financially stable, with good corporate governance, and good to outstanding service delivery. Both Manly and Warringah have a lengthy and proud history, while Pittwater has achieved its own integrity and many positive outcomes since its breakaway from Warringah.

The proposed demise of these Councils and their merger into two other entities as proposed by the State Government will have both positive and negative features. It will inevitably lead to a loss of jobs, as roles become amalgamated or deleted.

Warringah Council has been arguing for combined Northern Beaches Council, which will remove some of the boundary anomalies that currently apply. (E.g. Queenscliff pool=Warringah; Queenscliff Beach=Manly) and generate economies of scale in service delivery. It currently has to maintain a range of public assets, such as swimming pools, green space, beach precincts and ovals that are heavily utilised by all northern beaches residents.

Friends of Freshwater Inc. favours a combined Northern Beaches Council, with the default position of the status quo (i.e. the current 3 Councils). We are of the view that we have little in common with suburbs within the Mosman Council, and they with us.

We feel that it is also absurd to place Killarney Heights, Forestville and parts of French’s Forest within a proposed Greater Pittwater.

As part of a process of public consultation, the Boundaries Commission is holding two meetings tomorrow, Tuesday 2 February in Manly and Pittwater. Curiously no meeting is being held in Warringah. Our community has been asked to lodge submissions as part of this process prior to 28 February 2016.

Cash for Cans Scheme

A small but dedicated group of volunteers rises every morning and cleans Freshwater Beach of unwanted plastic. Much of this is in the form of plastic bottles that have either come through the storm water system; been left on the beach or simply been washed up. Whatever the case this is a constant problem, which would be improved by, cash for cans scheme.

The State Government has recently released its Container Deposit System Discussion Paper and is seeking submissions on the topic. There is major opposition to this proposal from Coca Cola Amatil and other plastics companies. Their opposition extends over decades. South Australia has had a successful container deposit scheme for many years.

The public consultation phase on the State Government’s Cash for Cans Program is now open. Submissions close on 26 February and you can get advice on this proposal from the Boomerang Alliance on Facebook.

HARBORD GROWERS SETTLES INTO ITS NEW BALGOWLAH SITE.

It was like old home week as the Duke paid a visit to the new Harbord Growers Site at Stockland, Balgowlah.  With multiple refrigerated areas, under cover loading dock, and a larger capacity for fruit, vegetable and deli items, the Gerace family appears to be settling in well to the new environment, and has taken many of their former customers with them.  It was also great to observe that many of the familiar, helpful, former staff from Freshwater had been re-employed at Balgowlah.

Freshwater’s loss is Balgowlah’s gain.

HSC Triumph for Balgowlah Boys Campus.

As Schools resume for the 2016 academic year, many Freshwater boys will be making their first trip to Balgowlah Buys campus, as part of a growing number of students commuting from Freshwater. A third bus now is needed to take these students to and from the School each day.

In 2015, Bally Boys had a zoomer HSC with it being among the best performing non-selective public schools, and particularly in English where it came 4th in the State. It surpassed Selective public and private schools in the process.

Freshwater-based Principal, Paul Sheather, is presiding over a sustained academic progression at this campus and Freshwater students will be among the beneficiaries.

FRESHWATER COMMUNITY BANK SCHOLARSHIPS ASSIST STUDENTS AGAIN IN 2016

8 students from 9 local high schools are enrolling in their 2016 university courses, armed with a scholarship from the Freshwater community via its Freshwater Community Bank. This is the 4th year of this scholarship program and each year, $50k, is committed to the initiative.  The 2015 Freshwater Student of the Year will be announced on 22nd February at a function at South Curl Curl Surf Club.

IMPROVED ACCESS TO FRESHWATER POOL

Friends of Freshwater has been campaigning for improved access to Freshwater pool from Ocean View Road at the northern end of Freshwater Beach.  Currently the pathway access forces pedestrians to walk along a goat track and through the tidal zone at high tide. It also presents and impenetrable barrier for disabled or frail aged residents.

Warringah Council, with submissions from the Friends of Freshwater has decided to plan an extension of the coastal pathway from the Pool through to Ocean View Road.

FROM A LITTLE THING, BIG THINGS ARE GROWING

Few have heard of Crown Reserve, but in the space of a few years, the local Freshwater community has converted this rocky, sloping block of land between Queenscliff and Crown Roads in Freshwater from an unused neglected area to a flourishing green oasis.

With the approval of Warringah Council it has been transformed into Freshie Community Garden, and is also becoming a minor tourist attraction for those passing by or on their daily walks who appreciate seeing the garden change with the seasons.

Support from Warringah Council, local institutions and businesses such as the Freshwater Community Bank, has enabled seventy gardeners to now produce vegetables, fruit and herbs from 35 irrigated raised garden beds on the Reserve.

The bulk of these gardeners come from Freshwater and Queenscliff and many live in medium density housing where there is little space for growing plants and vegetables.

Crown Reserve was initially created as a result of the demolition of two houses to make way for a pedestrian pathway, upgraded power utilities, and storm water drainage. The Reserve was full of rock and demolition debris and with a thin layer of topsoil. An approach was made by the Friends of Freshwater to gain access to the Reserve for a community garden and in 2012 a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with Council to permit usage of a portion of the site. This MOU specified, among many provisions, that the site remain unfenced. Recently an extended Memorandum of Understanding has been signed to allow for an extension of the Garden northwards up the site to permit the planting of orchard trees and collective cropping.

Funding for the Community Garden is modest. Friends of Freshwater Inc. pays for the public liability insurance on the site, provide the garden beds, soil and irrigation, and individual gardeners rent these garden beds for a small cost.

The Community Garden has seen the development of shared crops in large beds so that we can get greater produce for gardeners. Recent bulk crops of snow peas, eggplants, potatoes, artichokes, ginger, turmeric and tomatoes have been well used by the gardeners.

We are also providing additional space for the collective cultivation of perennial herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, oregano, lavender and aloe vera.

Our gardeners take pride in doing things on a shoestring and recycling materials. We have sourced unwanted railway sleepers from a golf club; straw and builder’s sand bags from construction sites, and our restored gazebo was lying in a dilapidated state at Belrose, before we gave it a new lease of life. Even our signage derives from an ornate bed head retrieved from a Council clean-up.

We have also had great support from big-hearted local businesses that have donated prizes for raffles, and from plumbers, truck-drivers, builders and nurseries, which have given their advice and time freely.

This has been an inspiring Freshwater community effort.

BECOME NEW FRIENDS OF FRESHWATER MEMBER OR SIMPLY RENEW YOUR EXISTING MEMBERSHIP.

As you can see, we constantly need to raise our voice as a community on a variety of issues. Join us and strengthen our voice, and yours.

2016 memberships are now open at $10 per year via a simple transfer to FOF’s account at Freshwater Community Bank (633000/138650791) or via a visit to the Branch.

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