“The Duke” Newsletter May 2016


                                  May 2016 Update from The Friends of Freshwater Inc.

Our “ Indian summer” is now over and winter is well and truly with us. El Nino has abruptly departed but not before leaving the hottest, rain-free, autumn on record. As we shiver into June, we are about to be deluged by a season of east-coast lows, big 3-6m seas and coastal erosion.  As they were in April 2015, the southern ends of our beaches will be the most vulnerable.


The statewide, contentious, Council amalgamation process is still ongoing with many individual Councils contesting merger decisions made by the State Government. Submissions received from our community on the proposed Northern Beaches Council and its predecessor ( a divided model including Mosman), were an impressive 69% of those lodged throughout the State. It is our understanding that the bulk of submissions were in favour of combined Northern Beaches Council.

In Manly, Warringah and Pittwater, all elected Councillors and Mayors had their elected status abruptly annulled. It was a perfunctory process, with all having their email addresses cancelled and all Council property required to be returned. It was a heavy-handed, discourteous and undignified treatment of these elected officials.

It all happened with such speed that we, as a community, did not get a chance to say thank you to our Mayor and Ward Councillors for their 24/7 contribution on behalf of their elected ratepayers.

To the now former Mayor, Michael Regan, our former Councillors Sue Heins, Bob Giltinan and Pat Daley, the Friends of Freshwater extend a sincere vote of thanks for your contribution.

Its worth noting that we will never again have this level of representation, as Freshwater has been included in a proposed Curl Curl Ward comprising it, Dee Why, Beacon Hill, Narraweena and Curl Curl. This Ward will have three elected representatives covering a substantial population. The workload for elected reps will substantially increase, and take it out of the realm of enthusiastic volunteers.

Elections are proposed to be held in 2017. In the meantime, the appointed Administrator, Dick Persson, the acting General Manager, Mark Ferguson, and Deputy General Managers are comprising the formal Northern Beaches Council for decision-making purposes.

Of course, lumping four low rise residential areas (Freshwater, Narraweena, Curl Curl and Beacon Hill) with the fast growing, high rise, and largely medium density, Dee Why town centre, will inevitably mean that we will not get much of a lick of the ratepayer ice-cream. Dee Why, because of its location has massive storm water drainage issues which will require costly public works.

At its first meeting on Wednesday, 2 June, major project expenditures were approved. No prizes for discovering that the voracious infrastructure needs of Dee Why are to be funded by capital projects, and constitute a significant share of the NBC expenditure.


As the photos below indicate, Freshwater is going through an obvious and noisy major construction phase with $200M worth of building contracts on the go. This is a once-off period for Freshwater as there are simply no more sites of this magnitude to develop.


SECTION 94 Developer contributions for these projects are approximately $2m and we have discovered that all of this will be devoted to infrastructure projects in Dee Why Town Centre. Not a cent will apparently accrue to projects in Freshwater. We believe this to be grossly unfair.


Many of these projects, we are told by Council staff, including the Jacka Park toilet facility, will only be funded out of Developer Contributions whereas previously we were told that they would be funded out of normal Council budgeting.


NBC Council officers have also apparently dumped the recently approved Open Space Strategy for Freshwater. After a lengthy public submission phase, we were informed as to the status of various projects including upgrading of playgrounds and an above tidal pathway from Freshwater pool, only to find that these projects have been swept into another process of consultation within a proposed Freshwater Beach Master Plan Project with a multi-year timeframe and no funding.


We raised our concerns with the former Warringah Mayor, Michael Regan and he shares our sense of unfairness As Chair of the Economic Committee, he is prepared to take our list of projects (none of which are big-ticket items) to the new Administrator.

We await a positive outcome.


In what can only be described as a quasi-military operation, Tier 2 Construction Company, Ganellen, has already demolished the former Harbord Diggers car park, and parts of the western side of the former club building. This is in preparation for a major excavation of the site down to near sea level, with 150,000 cu.metres of rock to be removed. It will involve a large number of truck movements per day. Most of these trucks will be  queuing in Griffith Road awaiting a call.


Friends of Freshie continues to keep a close eye on developments associated with the relocation of the Optus Tower in McKillop Park. We have been advised by Optus that the 3G Tower will be removed by March next year. Following our community campaign, the large 4G components have been removed. In the interim, Optus plans to establish Towers in the Curl Curl basin to overcome data signal black spots. Mike Baird’s Office and NBC Deputy GM Malcolm Ryan are also involved. 


Conversion of the former Dee Why RSL Bowling Club site (on the corner of Griffith and Abbott Roads) into a Community Centre is nearing completion. The former Warringah Council sought public submissions to clarify usage.  It was pleasing to observe that a community garden is planned for the western bowling rink of the site.  Council received two petitions from 300 people, and 80 written submissions (including from Friends of Freshie) supporting a Curly Community Garden at this location. Already the Centre is heavily booked for various activities and meetings.


 There is nothing better than fresh produce from one’s backyard. In days gone by, Freshwater had small farms, dairies, vegetable gardens and beehives. Many families fondly recall early school years when the Davidson family used to provide fresh milk to students from their dairy farm across the road from Harbord Public School.

Local restaurateur, Giovanni Pilu has revived this fresh tradition with his series of Locavore Lunches, where one can eat produce with a low food mileage. It runs counter to the supermarket offerings that often derive from international settings. In his latest menu, he has sourced potatoes from Robertson; Berkshire Kurabuta pork from Byron Bay, and persimmon-based deserts from his wife’s parents’ farm at Ourimbah.

Not to be outdone, Dale Hunt, GM of Mounties Northern Sites, has introduced local providoring into the Temporary Diggers. He has including genuine organic eggs, chutneys, honeys, jams and other local products. 

His honey producer is locally based in Freshwater, and it appears that there is also a local network of beekeepers in Freshwater busily harvesting honey.


It is sad to report that the only native beehive in Freshwater Community Garden has been poisoned.  This is either an act of vandalism or one based on ignorance, as native stingless bees do no harm to anyone. Dan Smailes, Bee Co-ordinator with Permaculture Northern Beaches, found that a large amount of insecticide had been inserted into the hive.

Australia is now chronically short of pollinating bees and local governments are trying to redress this situation by locating stingless beehives in local reserves and backyards. Freshie Community Garden’s hive had recently been split into two thriving hives, and native honey had been harvested.

The Community Garden will purchase a new hive and start again with more explanatory signage.


A DA, which was lodged in February for a major re-development of properties along the southern side of Lawrence Street, has apparently been sent back by the Council Planning Department to its applicant. The properties are in the name of Mr. C.A.Zakos.

These properties play a prominent role in the life of Freshwater Village, and the ground-level retail shops provide a range of essential and hospitality services.

Our submission in February focussed on the significant shortfall in parking. It appears that Council have similar reservations and have asked for redevelopment of the plans to include the requisite parking. This will be difficult for the applicant as it involves foregoing revenue earning accommodation for parking provisions.


Council has planted a range of water gums in both the Plaza and along Lawrence Street. Some of these are located adjacent to pedestrian crossings. Their crown growth is now causing sightline confusion for both pedestrians and drivers. Former Councillors Heins and Giltinan, as well as Friends of Freshie, raised these concerns as part of a wider concern for the safety arrangements of these pedestrian crossings.

The new Northern Beaches Council considered these submissions on 2 June this week and resolved, “ that visibility and sight distance created by these street trees does not appear to be an issue at this location”.

Clearly it will take a major accident for something to be done to rectify the situation.

Queenscliff Steps to be upgraded in June.

The $100k Stage 3 of the Queenscliff Steps upgrade is scheduled to commence in June.

This will involve closure of the Steps to the southern headland of Freshwater Beach.  It is anticipated that the work will take a number of weeks and this busy thoroughfare will be closed for pedestrian access.

We have campaigned for this upgrade and for the improvement of stormwater drainage through Undercliffe Reserve.


© Friends of Freshwater Village Incorporated

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