Red Wattle Bird

Although Marrickville Council said on their website that last week’s postponed Council Meeting would be held at the conclusion of the Development Assessment Committee Meeting, it was moved to the beginning of proceedings.  This is the report of the Council Meeting & only the items relating to the new Marrickville Library & not the Development Assessment Committee Meeting.  The following is how I understood the meeting & all mistakes are mine.  This is a long post, but as the issue is so important, I thought it best to report in full as best as I could. Note: MC = Marrickville Council.  SRV = Special Rate Variation.  Affordable Housing = AF.

The Councillors & Wards are as follows – LABOR:  Iskandar/Central, Wright/North, Tsardoulias/West, O’Sullivan/South. GREENS:  Phillips/Central, Peters/North, Byrnes/North, Kontellis/West, Olive/South.  INDEPENDENT:  Macri/Central, Thanos/West, Hanna/South.

Marrickville Library:  It was decided to do the agenda items in the following order – 5, 11 & 1.  All the speakers were grouped together. Speaker 1:  Father John, St Bridget’s Church. The church is a proud partner with MC. Saw plans & was excited with monastery & library complimenting each other. Said he got a letter drop from the Greens.  Both sides of Marrickville Road have open sides that people can use. Cost for new library may need to be modified. Last thing I want is a 9-storey block of flats. Resident 2: I object to rescission. If MC is truly interested in community feedback they should wait until it is all received & analyzed. It’s wrong to raise expectations by showing new library without asking will you like to pay. No one I have spoken to, 200 people, say they want the new library.  A minor delay will allow MC to look at results before committing to unnecessary expenditure.

Resident 3: Against the motion.  People are not aware of the full impact of the SRV. Marrickville Matters said it’s $1.02/week – doesn’t sound much & is a tactic to sell SRV. 6.2% collects $51 million over 15 years, so it’s not a $30 million library.   There has to be an inclusion of the interest. 1,124,000 people live in Salt Lake City, 608,660 people live in Seattle, yet these were the examples of libraries we were given.  The park proposal is totally unsuited.  Director of Development says the proposal for the park goes against all design principles.  Resident 4: Only found out last week that the library will be built. Factory owners pay a levy of 6.7%. Factory owners have not been notified.  I will be paying $6,000/year over 15 years, making $100,000 before indexing. No figures on upkeep. We are spending millions on the MBN. In years ahead we may not even need a library. How can you expect older people to travel to Marrickville? Kids use computers. I ask MC to relook at it & ask the right questions.  Add the Carbon Tax as well. This project is using an unbelievable amount of money & we will be the ones paying for it.

Resident 5: I do frequent libraries & Marrickville Library feels claustrophobic. It’s small, hard to park, cramped at the basement of the Town Hall & an insult to users.  We want a modern library. A library serves a lot of purposes & facilitates community groups to be able to meet. Disadvantaged groups get the most out of this. Green space is important & by having it reduces $5 million of infrastructure. A public library will be a great asset to our community. Resident 6: Support the motion in part only. How can we go to tender when the consultation is not over? I’ve got a petition going against the rate levy. 8 out of 10 people don’t want the library. Unemployment is increasing in our community. Why the rush to push it through? There is hysterical propaganda by Greens mail drop for a 9-storey building. There has never been a plan for high storey building on that corner. A limited amount preferred Design 2. None of my neighbours get Marrickville Matters or any literature about the library.  I don’t like any of the designs. All the options should be put on the table so the residents can have a democratic say.

Resident 7: I support the rescission motion. MC needs to stop work on the library. How can we get to the stage where the community gets 3 options? Why weren’t there other options present? $30 million is outrageous. Surry Hills library cost much less. Who has the mandate to push this through & a rate rise?  Feedback shows community is against it. No more work should happen until the consultation is finished.  Resident 8: The residents don’t need a hefty rate levy. Do we want Marrickville to have a crisis like Europe?  Submitting to a rate levy is the easy way out.  Resident 9: Finding a house in this area is a nightmare.  My problem is finding AF for students of Petersham TAFE.

Resident 10: We have a one in a generation site being narrowed down to one thing, the library. Can we have AF, a civic centre for staff?  We should be redoing the plans. 70% of residents do not want a rate rise.  Resident 11: Support the library, but concerned about Marrickville Matters. Our library compared with European libraries, all grand schemes. We were asked do you support $1.02/week to support a new library? I was affronted. I thought there may be a whole lot of options that were not put to me. You are taking in about $800 million. That’s a lot of money for many in the community. This tax will knock off jobs in the community. We teach our kids to live within your means & we are not doing this in this community.

Resident 12:  Yes, we do need AF & their scope is to look at this. People say the designs are grandiose. Architects go a bit overboard.  I do take offence; MC has made every effort to consult with the community. Quite a lot of opportunity if you were s motivated to look at the plans. We can have meeting rooms that can be leased. We need a bottom line, a modern contemporary building. Resident 13: I support the motion. 56% are against the inaccurate rate rise. It’s still not clear to me whether tri-generation will come out of costs. In a time where Marrickville Road is worried about Metro impact, MC want businesses to pay money to showcase their green buildings. The green-hub library will be at the expense of the historic shopping strip. Resident 14: Support the motion in part.  There has been more than one crucial omission in this consultation process. The consultation process has been flawed from the beginning when other options should be on the table in a demonstrable way. People, especially the elderly are very stressed.  Why was there not an emergency meeting in Feb/March after the finding?  How could they not know what they were doing? Who’s Council is this? I have no confidence in senior staff to be looking after the welfare of their residents.  Resident 15:  Seems that survey results are not finalised, so how can so much emphasis be made without survey completed? My husband frequents libraries. We are looking forward & attracted to a new library. Sounds like hysteria about the new library. It’s not like we are putting up a gambling den. We can find ways to fund it, even a cake raffle.

Mayor Hanna:  Motion to rescind the previous decision. Carried unanimously.

Clr Macri: Put up new motion – 1. MC to engage an architect on option 2 2. Architect to develop & implement an early works package, develop & report on modified &/or alternative lower cost design options, report on future staffing & annual maintenance for each option. 3. Extend community consultation, 4. Staff to prepare report on future uses of Marrickville Town Hall. Include an AH option on library site.

Clr Macri: This is to try to get the Councillors to move forward. There are concerns with the current proposal & the message form the community is that they are not prepared to support the rate levy.  The outcome will include a great library, with a community hub with even more open space in a better place on the site. (not in front of the library on the corner of Livingstone & Marrickville Roads – J)  Clr Wright: Hospital site is a complex site. The library has come off the rails when the reality of funding became obvious.  It’s always been clear that this Council would not be making a final decision on the library. This will be for the new Council voted in September. IPART has congratulated us on extensive consultation. They are very confident with the process to date. Tonight is about moving that roadblock & moving forward. I support this motion.

Clr Thanos: I support this motion. This is not just a library; it’s a community centre. Certain speakers talked about moving the Civic Centre to this site. We decided not to because we would need an 11-storey building & to demolish the heritage buildings.  People need to look at the information on what’s been given to them.  IPART commended MC & said this was the best community consultation they had ever seen, but there should have been a lower cost option. It is disheartening & makes me sick to come to Chambers & hear all the lies being disseminated about what is planned for the library. MC said we would look at all the cost options & look at cost to business & a flat rate. I favour another approach to find savings. We pay $1.8 million dollars more for MC Waste Services. We could also save via our Workers Compensation. This could pay for the library without a rate increase. I’m not saying sack the garbos, but we can increase productivity.  I think the best thing to happen for the public is for this Council to be dismissed. Last week I was not told that you were going to bolt when I saw you caucusing 20-minutes before.  I’m sick & tired of coming to these meetings & not knowing what is going to be before us.  For sure you had this motion for at least a couple of hours before. It shows a lot of work. I’d like a chance to read these with some time to think.

Clr Olive: Point 2, after ratepayers… add look at other funding issues. Clr Peters: The motion that was passed at the last meeting is similar to this.  Can someone explain why we wasted 2 weeks because the most sensible option was voted on 2 weeks ago, then a rescind motion put up & withdrawn & now it’s put forward again to us tonight?  Greens have always supported a visionary option for Marrickville Library. No-one has agreed on any option to pay for the library. It’s a storm in a teacup.   Clr Tsardoulias called Clr Peters a liar. (Councillors called for him to withdraw this accusation – J). Clr Tsardoulias: She might be a liar, but I’ll withdraw. Clr Peters: This has been an impotent attempt by current Councillors & ex-Mayor to say Greens are trying for an economically extravagant project.

Clr Kontellis: 2 weeks ago Clr Macri was violently opposed to building a new library.  Clr Macri: Anyone who was here will know this is a lie. I said a park on this corner is in the wrong place. Clr Kontellis: He thought the park was wrong, he even likened the people of Marrickville to wanting filet mignon, but needing a soup kitchen.  Clr Macri: The library in Marrickville Matters was likened to offering filet mignon, when they get a soup kitchen.  Clr Kontellis: Do you accept that some people have been confused about what you stand for Clr Macri? You were opposed to Marrickville getting a library. You called it too grandiose. (Mayor Hanna called a 5-minute break to calm the debate).  Clr Kontellis: I am utterly disappointed about commentators saying the people have been misinformed. One said that the community consultation had been awful. We are still talking to the community about building community infrastructure.

Clr Phillips: I support the motion. It’s very similar to what we previously voted on. I also take exception from some of the speakers that this has not been a democratic process. We have had 10 previous meetings where the library has been discussed. I’m very glad we are looking at other options. It’s very important that we are appointing the architects. Very pleased this is no longer amending what is Precinct B, a park & library on the corner. Marrickville has the lowest open space so it’s very important that we take every opportunity to create new green space. Clr Iskandar: I welcome these changes. This motion is very wise & indicates that we haven’t finished consulting with the community. We are talking about a $30 million option & now lower options.  We want to make this site to be proud of because it’s the future of the most iconic feature in Marrickville. We are exploring a few extra opportunities extra about what we ca do on this site.

Clr Byrne: In good faith I will support this motion. A consensus decision around the table will give staff confidence to continue to invest time & energy on this project & the community gets confidence. I do have concerns about Clr Macri’s statement that the park is not in the right place. There needs to be open space on this corner.   Clr O’Sullivan: I enjoyed listening to the views of the speakers. The motion before us is very specific, a much tighter motion than the previous motion that was rescinded.  Clr Olive: One of the speakers said we were rushing the process. Someone else asked me why we were dragging the chain on the new library. MC hasn’t rushed. We had 36 designers. We gave 3 (Architects) $15,000 each to come up with a design. The community chose Option 2.  Motion clearly says continue with community consultation.  We are not just getting a library. $5 million is for an underground car parking. We have to refurbish the heritage buildings. $2.6 million to refurbish this building now. We didn’t have an Option 2 a week ago. The motion depends on how it is interpreted. Clr Macri speaks about moving parkland to some other part of the site, while I see the park remaining on the corner & not even opening a door for a 9-storey building & keeping the park on Precinct B. Point 4 – MC was looking at future use of Marrickville Town Hall anyway.

Clr Tsardoulias: I’ve supported the library from day one. The misconception that Labor doesn’t support a library is not true & not the pamphlet from Clrs Phillips & Kontellis. The community wants proper consultation & wants to be heard. You go out on the weekend, 9-storey building & a park. Where was this?  Clr Phillips: The alternative motion of the library 2009 had a 9-storey building. Clr Tsardoulias: Your current proposal has a 10-storey building. I’ve heard Clrs Olive, Kontellis & Phillips say let’s sell off the site. Clr Kontellis: You are misrepresenting me. I never said that. Clr Tsardoulias: I want to explain the truth. They said Labor & Independents want a 9-storey building. We moved a rescission motion to look at all options. Clr Kontellis is lying to the media. I wish the media was here to hear the truth. We are delaying to make the right options for the community. We are getting advice form staff. If people don’t like it – tough cookies!

Clr Olive: Amendment – new point that Precinct B be preserved as a park in Option 2. Indications by GM is that specific protection of park is not covered in this motion. We have to include Precinct B in this motion.  There is a need for parkland. This is 1,000 sq. metres of parkland. We have to give a guarantee of protection of park space; otherwise we go back to previous motion where we could have a 9-storey building.  Clr Wright: What does this mean to the library design? We may even be restricting the current design. It may be better to amend the motion to reflect as in Option 2. The library itself would not impose on Precinct B.  My intention in seconding is an integrated library & green space.

Clr Byrnes: When I spoke about Precinct B, that’s why I supported in good faith.  We should be clear that that space should be open space for a park.  Clr Phillips: It’s a bone of contention by Councillors. The 2009 Masterplan has a 9-storey building. I’m glad that Clr Tsardoulias & the Labor party are supporting the park. If you don’t vote for the amendment, how can we be sure that you don’t have alternative plans?

Clr Marcri: I’m against the amendment. A park on the corner is a poor outcome for the community. It should be in Precinct A. 400 sq. metres out of 1,100 sq. metres because of a sunken hole in the ground. I cannot see why a park cannot be put on the side linking library & Hospital Lane. There will be issues of passive surveillance. The Waterplay Park; Greens wanted it on corner of Hills Street on a busy intersection. Wicks Park has no amenity on the corner. I want to put it in a protected location & still on road frontage.  2 architects said you shouldn’t put a park on a corner; it’s a bad outcome. Changing the location will be a nightmare, drainage issues, sunlight. 600 sq. metres will be hard space.

Clr Thanos: The 600 sq. metres are gardens. This is a very good opportunity for the community to have walkways & greenery gardens. Important to keep park in Precinct B, otherwise we would need to rebuild. St Bridget’s want the park. There are substantial savings to have the park in Precinct B. This creates a usable green entranceway into the library. Let’s get over the idea that we have to develop the site to its maximum. The best thing is to provide green space to the community.   Clr Tsardoulias: That amount of green space is retained in any new designs & is high quality & accessible.

Mayor Hanna: We are getting a consultant for the best outcome. What if the consultant says the park is better on the site? If you Greens put the park on the corner you are killing the site. Give a chance to the ratepayer. You are putting conditions on the consultant. If you are fair dinkum for the ratepayer you will do like Macri wants, but no, you will kill the site.  Clr Thanos: The consultants said we would save money between $3.5 & $5 million by going for Precinct B as a park.

Clr Macri: The project is in serious trouble. I haven’t heard anyone say they are happy to support the SRV. Funding is under strain. When we go back to the people we should give the community alternate options. Location of open space will be debated. Will we make the library smaller? The park appeared out of the sky without consultation. IPART looked at infrastructure backlog & how we are dealing with them. We have a $7 million backlog of fixing roads & footpaths. Then Thanos targets garbos & then wanted to close the library.  SRV is looking very different. With Greens motion to sell off the site, that’s the only motion left. People have to be honest & fair dinkum. I don’t think IPART will approve it. The last levy was for the pool so we can construct the library out of the funds we receive from that site. We come away with a pool for $10 million & we spent $18 million.

Vote on Olive’s amendment – For: Clr’s Olive, Peters, Phillips, Kontellis, Byrne & Thanos. Against: Mayor Hanna, Clrs Macri, Iskandar, Tsardoulias, Wright & O’Sullivan with Mayor Hanna using his casting vote. Lost.

Foreshadowed motion.  Clr Byrne: The fact that the amendment has been lost clarifies for me that the park in Precinct B is no longer on the table. It does change what was my understanding of the original amendment. I won’t support motion.  Clr Phillips: It’s clear that the amendment to preserve the park in Precinct B has just been voted down.  The 2009 design had a 9-storey building. (Clr Tsardoulias called Clr Phillips a liar, which was later withdrawn – J). Clr Iskandar:  It shows how good Clr Phillips is in tactics, but he can’t mislead the Gallery.  We are talking about the future. We are employing people to open the file to come with more costings. You are talking that the park should be there. We don’t support, but we want to see what the designer says.  I support this & say no to a 9-storey building there. Clr Macri:  If we are serious we have to give people choices & this will make sure it preserves & enhances the green space.  Clr Thanos: I agree with both sides. If Councillors come back here with a 9-storey building on this corner site there will be hell to pay. I don’t want to see this space flogged off to the highest bidder. We should be reaching consensus instead of a 5-7 vote.

Clr Peters:  I’d like Clr Iskandar to consider your amendment to include that no residential or commercial building be put in Precinct B. You say you support better quality open space. Let’s do it now.  Clr Tsardoulias: Sorry to spoil Clr Phillips & Olive’s bacon tonight. This motion is to get high quality open space & not wedging staff. We are talking about $30 million. Let the staff do their job as they are paid to do.

Mayor Hanna: We will put the park in the right space. Easter, everyone was happy in their house & the Greens were going around putting in letterboxes. A lady refused to take a pamphlet about a 9-storey building. I told people they were a liar. The people thanked me for doing this. The people don’t trust you because your people are not here. Most people here are against your motion. From the beginning I said I was against an increase in rates.   A resident came to me. His parents were in Double Bay. He said you want to build an Opera House here. The business people, the ones you ignore, said you are the Mayor, organize a meeting with the minster.  60% said no. I have more than 2,500 signatures against the library. Residents don’t bother to ring you I’m getting so many emails & phone calls about whose idea is this? No way when I am Mayor I will sack anyone.  Clr Thanos: I always said I’d prefer to keep garbos in house providing we get the productivity.   (He explained that the saving with the garbage men would mean there would be no need for a rate levy – J).

Vote on Clr Peters’ amendment – For: Clrs Olive, Peters, Phillips, Kontellis, Byrne & Thanos. Against: Mayor Hanna, Clrs Macri, Iskandar, Tsardoulias, Wright & O’Sullivan with Mayor Hanna using his casting vote. Lost.

Vote on Clr Tsardoulias’ amendment – For: Mayor Hanna, Clrs Macri, Iskandar, Tsardoulias, Wright & O’Sullivan Phillips & Thanos. Against: Clrs Olive, Peters, Kontellis & Byrne. Passed.

Final vote on Clr Macri’s motion Item 1 – For: Mayor Hanna, Clrs Macri, Thanos, Iskandar, Tsardoulias, Wright & O’Sullivan. Against: Clrs Olive, Peters, Phillips, Kontellis & Byrne. Passed.

Items 5 & 11 passed unanimously with no discussion.  Here ends the Report for this week. The remaining items on last week’s Council Meeting agenda are postponed until next week, 17th April 2012.    Phew! Congratulations to those who read this far.