RESPONSE TO ISSUES AND QUESTIONS RAISED
Happening to the Commuter Pontoon”
strength of a community is directly proportional to the degree of
diversity of opinion
it can accommodate and still
retain its essential good will”. Peter Keyan, 1996
democratic process is alive and well! It is good to see some robust
discussion on issues pertaining to Church Point (albeit maybe not on
Sunday evening). If you wish, you may skip the following background and
proceed to the section where we will attempt to make a first response
to the article and questions posted in the PON.
It is important
when forming views on these matters that one has all the relevant
information, as decisions and actions taken now will have significant
implications not only on the future of Church Point, but also on the
amenity of those who live in the Offshore areas now and for the next 30
to 50 years.
What is essential is that the issue of the final design
of the Church Point Commuter Wharf and the Church Point Plan of
Management (CPPOM) proposals for future parking at Church Point are
has always been strongly held views regarding Church Point, both by the
Offshore Communities and, in particular, various Onshore groups. Not
only have the Onshore groups advocated that there should be no extra
parking spaces created at Church Point, but that indeed a number of
spaces in the main carpark should be turned into green space.
If you are new to this issue, some of the pertinent points to be aware
Since the early 1970’s there have been numerous grand plans, meetings
and consultant’s reports relating to Church Point.
May 28, 2004, the Department of Lands (responsible for these Crown
Lands) wrote a letter to Pittwater Council stating “currently 80% of
the land is used for private carparking by Offshore residents. Whilst
the public purpose includes parking this must be public parking and not
private usage as currently occurs. This land must be open to the public
generally as a right. Government policy is to maximize public access to
foreshore land, in particular publicly owned land”.
Negotiations continued with the
Department of Lands over the next 4 years. In 2006, the Department of
Lands tentatively agreed that Offshore residents could park overnight
in what would be a significantly reduced carpark, but at an annual fee
of $1,200 per annum for the use of this prime crown land.
March 14, 2005 the Department of Lands then wrote a follow‐up letter to
Council stating “Further, in developing a Plan of Management, cessation
of long term carparking in the Church Point Reserve must be effective
from June 30, 2007”.
2008, in principle approval to rezone the Reserve at Church Point and
legitimise the right and ability to park in the Reserve was given,
subject to Council’s adoption of a Church Point Plan of Management
(CPPOM). This Plan allows the creation of additional parking spaces
opposite the Commuter Wharf. Various Onshore groups, with the strong
support of the Department of Lands, required that the CPPOM include the
non‐optional reduction of 30 parking spaces in the main carpark for
It is also important to note that written legal
advice obtained from Mallesons Stephen Jaques several years ago stated
that neither Council nor any other government body has a legal
responsibility to provide parking at Church Point for Offshore
residents to access their homes. The support we now have from Council
so that we can access our homes is a moral consideration and a gesture
In all levels of politics and community life what
is called “confirmational bias” means that people often mix with others
who support their own views giving the impression that this is “the
majority view”. To gauge more accurate opinion, SIRA in partnership
with WPCA, is developing a survey of every Offshore household with
regard to Options for Precinct 1 at Church Point; the Commuter Wharf
area. The design of this survey has required significant community
consultation and its distribution has been delayed.
Council were successful in securing a grant of $200,000.00 from NSW
Maritime for a new Commuter Pontoon at Church Point. These funds are
required to be expended in the short term hence the need to proceed
with these works. We must not lose this funding opportunity by delaying
the tender process otherwise the boat parking fees will increase.
to Questions and Issues Raised
stated above, the issue of the final design of the Church Point
Commuter Wharf and the future of parking at Church Point are intimately
linked. For the moment, we would like to make an immediate response to
the article and questions posted in the PON.
you want to keep the cost of boat stickers to a minimum e.g. $100
instead of $285 per year?
course lesser fees are desirable and every effort is being made to keep
them as low as possible within the constraints explained in the
following responses. The sketch provided is an un‐costed concept plan
which seems to propose the construction of a “mirror” of the existing
Wharf with an additional entrance closer to the centre of Church Point
at a cost almost one‐third the advertised proposal. This is very
do we get the most value for our money?
cost for the coming works is nearly half a million dollars. $300,000 is
the money collected from our carpark stickers, fines and meters in the
last year. There are simple, cost‐effective plans that could be
considered and put to tender. Here are two possibilities that
incorporate the existing pontoon and so would be cheaper for us. Both
options below are suggestions for the first stage of pontoon works. The
PoM Plan is shown dotted. The second stage would depend on decision
about infill to extend road/carparking and which first stage pontoon
design is chosen.
- The final design and
costings are still being determined. We have stated clearly to Council
that the fees should be lower than publicly advertised, but this cannot
be determined until final costings are available.
has already secured $200,000 in grant funding from NSW Maritime (which
must be expended or lost) which contributes to a facility that benefits
- Since the inception of
scheme in 2010, $300,000 has been accrued from Church Point Parking
Permits, fines and parking meters. This represents 2 years of Parking
Permit fees, not 1 year as stated in the article, and these funds have
been set aside to contribute to additional parking infrastructure.
These funds could be used as a short‐term loan to reduce the Commuter
Wharf fees. In order to do this, however, agreement would need to be
sought from those who have purchased Permits on the basis that these
funds would be used for carparking facilities. Some people may not use
the Commuter Wharf.
- The existing pontoons
could be reused, though consideration would have to be given to the
fact that the concrete structure has deteriorated requiring sealing
with epoxy resin to maintain its longevity. At this stage there is no
engineering certification on the economic life of the existing pontoons.
key point is the location of the future Commuter Wharf. This has been
verified by accurate professional surveying and not just concept
drawings. It is not possible for the Commuter Wharf to remain in its
current position and allow for additional car spaces opposite as shown
in the CPPOM.
- There have been many
for additional parking in this area, all of which have been assessed by
the Church Point Design Committee of Offshore and Onshore
representatives plus Council. However, with the non‐negotiable
reduction of 30 parking spaces from the main carpark, any alternate
designs that have been considered have resulted in very marginal
increases or no increase in net parking.
do not have a mandate to reject the plans in the current CPPOM. At the
moment, people are paying fees on the basis of the CCPOM, as adopted
and accepted. If the design is to be changed to establish a new
mandate, we would need to consult with the Offshore Communities,
stakeholders who have signed off on the current plan, such as
Department of Lands, NSW Fisheries, RTA, NSW Maritime, Pittwater
Council, Onshore resident groups, plus neighbouring businesses.
want an option to retain the current pontoon as part of the new works
to keep costs down? (as in the above sketches)
- RESPONSE: As
stated we will seek the reuse, or the use elsewhere, of the existing
Commuter Wharf. To introduce a new un‐costed concept design to create a
“mirror” of the existing Wharf with an additional entrance, as shown in
the sketches, at a cost of almost one‐third the advertised proposal is
current 65 metre commuter pontoon has an estimated 10‐20 years of life
Yes, but as stated above, the current concrete pontoons require ongoing
maintenance. Regardless of the final design, the existing pontoons can
potentially be re‐used for the benefit of the Offshore Communities. An
Engineering Certificate on the economic life expectancy of the existing
structure will confirm this opportunity.
advertised plan was to re‐use it as wings on the new longer main
pontoon. Council has now stated that it is no longer to be re‐used and
so half a million dollars will give us a new ramp with disability
access and 100 metre main pontoon with far fewer additional boat spaces.
See Response 4) above. What is being said is not clear, as the whole
point of a new Wharf is to create additional boat spaces to improve
safety and amenity.
like us, is keen to address safety issues caused by parking boats
two‐deep on the shore side. But many of us choose this option to give
our boats more protection. It would be great if the design offered us
as many sheltered spots as possible.
- RESPONSE: The new
Wharf will be longer and provide more boat spaces on the shore side.
Have you thought about how it’s going to look?
- RESPONSE: Good
question, the issue of design has been a prime consideration of the
extension of pontoons takes up more space in this open water view. In
evaluating designs, thought needs to be given to retaining the natural
beauty of this waterway for on‐ and offshore residents and the general
Very true, visual amenity, functionality, cost and integration with the
other components of the CCPOM have been the key factors in the design.
Do you want to extend the pontoon in stages
and see what our needs are after the introduction of boat stickers?
This is indeed what is happening. The tendering process allows for
staged construction. At the same time, caution should apply to
temporary arrangements as these often become permanent.
Keeping money in the bank simply allows us the
stage works as they are needed. For example, the carpark stickers have
helped reduce numbers in the carpark, and the details of the proposed
new carparking opposite the commuter wharf area are yet to be discussed.
See Response 1) and 2) a), b) and c) above. The Parking Permits have
initially reduced numbers in the carpark, but this might not be the
case in 5, 10 or 50 years time when demand for parking spaces may
return to previous levels. Currently, the Offshore Communities are the
lowest vehicle using group in Pittwater. The small shift in the
location of the Commuter Wharf is necessary to implement the creation
of additional carparking directly opposite the Commuter Wharf and
adjacent to the hillside as shown in the CPPOM. Not proceeding with
this may be a great disservice to current and future Offshore residents.
But isn’t this all settled already by the Church Point Plan of
is general support from the offshore community for the plan which
finally gives us the legal right to park in Church Point Reserve.
Indeed, the broad community mandate for
the CPPOM was established
through several large public meetings which involved all stakeholders.
In addition, during its development stage the significant majority of
correspondence received by Council from Offshore residents supported
The Management Plan assures us of ongoing
detailed resident consultation before any works are implemented. The
design for the pontoon works is about to be finalised and we’ve written
this because we think broader community input is valuable.
Excellent, but any input to the plan should be well informed. We are
advocating for the lowest cost possible and for the reuse of the
existing Wharf structure (even if not at Church Point). We do need to
make sure that any decision made now will not reduce the number of
parking spaces as shown in the CPPOM.
The opportunity is right now or never.
Yes, things are happening now. The proposed design has been on display
for the past month and there has been much work behind the scenes. Any
input is welcomed for consideration.
Do you want the chance to find out more and discuss options?
SIRA and WPCA and Council staff ASAP‐ within next few days. Council
staff are discussing this on Monday.
is a link to the Church Point Plan of Management on Council’s website
Pittwater Council Website‐Church
Point. Please refer in more depth to
the plans and consultation process that has brought us to where we are
now by looking at these documents. Happy reading and I would welcome
the opportunity to respond to any queries.
Yes, as above. We also encourage those who support the current CPPOM to
make contact with SIRA or Council and participate in the conversation.
As stated above, SIRA and WPCA are developing a survey of the Offshore
Communities on the proposed Options for Precinct 1.
is available to download in PDF format HERE
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views expressed in this newsletter are not necessarily the views of the
Scotland Island Residents Association (SIRA), or
Pittwater Community Association (WPCA)