Q AND A with Mark Edwards
MOORE’S FARM FOR PARKING PURCHASE EXPLAINED
Last month, it was announced that Council had acquired a large parcel of land at Weinam Creek at a cost of $3.2 million. This strategic acquisition is purposed for essential car parking. Council’s official responses to the FBI questions were rather clinical and only spoke of the actions taken so far. Whilst not speaking on behalf of Council, the Friendly Bay Islander interviewed Divison 5 Councillor Mark Edwards for his take on what this land acquisition means for the islands.
Q. Why is the purchase Moore’s Farm at Weinam Creek important and how is it linked to the future of the Weinam Creek Priority Development Area?
A. Anyone who has visited Weinam Creek knows that the lack of parking is a real issue and with continued population growth the problem will only get worse. The acquisition of this land allows planning to commence to bring about alternate parking options. The importance of this land also allows for progression of the Priority Development Area. You can’t build infrastructure on land covered with car parks so in having parking options, development of Weinam Creek can be managed.
Q. When will the car park be built and will the community be expected to walk for many kilometres to get to their parked cars?
A. The land has only just been acquired and a lot of planning, design and costing needs to be done. This will be a lengthy process and I would be surprised if the additional car parking will be completed this year. There are some key issues to work through and one of them is easy access for commuters to their cars. How that is addressed is part of the design and planning, but no one will have to walk kilometres and you have to keep in mind that this is all about providing solutions for the islands.
Q. Will the community see design proposals beforehand?
A. The Council is strong on community engagement and this is no different. There has already been a lot of consultation around Weinam Creek. However, until planning officers and engineers complete their assessments on this land, there is simply nothing to share. The good news is that we have a large area of land to work with.
Q. The Priority Development Area has been on the table for some time with Walkers Group the chosen developer. Why has nothing progressed and is there a “Plan B”?
A. There has been progress with the developer considering alternate design layouts. Councillors all want the best outcome for the community whilst acknowledging that there is a commercial need for any developer. I don’t think “plan B” is a good phrase. I believe having an awareness for the redevelopment to continue on the right path is more accurate. The Moore’s Land acquisition is an example of that awareness where Council understands the parking needs and also for the ability to free land which is currently used for parking.
Q. That implies then that now the Moore’s land has been purchased, we will see progress on the design of the Weinam Creek redevelopment over the next year?
A. Having parking options and extra land has opened the scope of what can be delivered, so I am certainly expecting progress this year. Construction of this new parking area is the main focus as it addresses the parking shortage needed now.
Q. Finally, this is a big financial investment from Council. How is it going to be funded?
A. You are right, and it is a challenge for Council. We have many millions of dollars being spent on the Macleay Island foreshore redevelopment and also the much needed island road sealing program. Just acquiring this land has been a major hit to Council’s finances. However, it does demonstrate that Council is serious about investing in the islands. The future funding will need to be assessed against the cost of the car park and what financial options can be used. Road sealing and parking are my priorities.