Local, Politics

RMS highlights traffic issues as split Council denies funds to evaluate Castle St chamber extension

Last night at the fortnightly Council meeting two motions were put forward by Cr Rhoades that both related to the proposed new Civic Centre and Council Chambers in Gordon Street.

The first motion asked Councillors to consider “that all contracts relating to the Cultural & Civic Space proposed for Gordon Street Coffs Harbour in excess of the prescribed tender amount of $250K are to be determined by full council and not under delegated authority.”

Cr Arkan seconded both motions moved by Cr Rhoades

A slightly amended version of this was approved unanimously, largely because there seemed to be some uncertainty as to whether the 11 June motion giving delegated authority to sell properties for less than 10% of market value met the requirements of the Local Government Act.

The second motion asked Councillors to ” seek from qualified Independent Consultants and or Quantity Surveyors actual and proper costings to add an additional floor to the existing Council Administration Building. These costs to include separate costings for a fit out.”

There was considerable discussion over the following staff comment on the agenda under the motion; “it is difficult to estimate the funding that is required for this body of work.  However, it is anticipated that the likely costs to engage the suitably qualified engineering and building consultants would be in the vicinity of $1m.” (Emphasis added by Outlook).

It was a hotly disputed figure, with Mr Steve Gooley, speaking in favour of the motion, questioning that it could be so expensive and arguing $150, 000 at the most would be a far more realistic figure.

It became apparent from a statement made by the Acting General Manager  that the $1m stated was a figure generated internally within Council without any apparent recourse to an externally sourced quote from a licenced quantity surveyor or similar.

After considerable debate that approving the motion was necessary so that councillors had all possible information for making decisions affecting ratepayer’s funds as required under the Local Government Act the vote was tied 4-4 once again.

Councillors Amos, Arkan, Rhoades and Swan voted for the motion and Councillors Addendorff, Ceccatto, Knight and Townley voted against it.

Mayor Knight used her casting vote, once again, to defeat the motion.

This vote result came on the same day that news was released that a major city investor, Gowings, had expressed reservations about including the Council Chambers in the new Gordon Street building, a fact Mr Gooley highlighted in his speech. See; https://coffscoastoutlook.com.au/no-to-council-chambers-in-gordon-street-gowings/

Coffs Coast Outlook has also learned that the RMS has submitted a number of concerns pertaining to the Gordon Street DA proposal too.

The RMS has highlighted that emergency vehicle access is not big enough, disabled parking is limited, and that traffic control plan issues and pedestrian access and paths as curently proposed overall were all problematic in their opinion.

The RMS DA submission to the Department of Planning referred to above is reproduced in the two pictures below;

26 Comments

  1. And once again the Mayor used a casting vote in contravention of convention on the very same day a split vote in the Australian Senate means proposed Government legislation fails and the status quo remains!

    Read more here; https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/government-s-union-busting-bill-defeated-in-the-senate-20191128-p53ezo.html

    But hey, the Coffs Harbour City Council ranks way higher in the ‘precedent’ heirachy than the Senate. Right? Well in the Mayor’s mind it must anyway.

    • The contradiction is a disgrace. It does however, clarify without doubt that our Mayor has sold out the community and an entertainment centre, for whatever benefit or inducement.
      A trusting public should seriously reconsider support for a Mayor that would openly and dogmatic ally mislead them from her election agenda.

  2. If the acting GM believes it’ll cost $1M to obtain a reliable cost estimate to build a second floor on existing building including estimate for prime services upgrade, this only goes to show how fast and loose they are with OUR cash. Is this really the level of brain intellect supposedly working on our behalf.

    You wouldn’t wanna put him in charge of constructing Australia’s new submarine fleet or building a new public toilet.

    • It exemplifies that Council is out of its depth in relation to large construction. The $76.5mil cost for the new Council offices is absolute exaggeration of cost. I suspect it is to beat up the level of loan funds council sources and subsequently redirects to general revenue.

    • Gloria Voglsinger

      Couldn’t agree more.

  3. Moonee beach resident

    If anyone is qualified to talk about traffic problems it’s this bloke. He causes them!!!
    I have seen him bailed up on the side of road abstractions traffic whilst the police checking are checking his bonofides a couple of times.

  4. Coffs Harbour City Council is DEADLOCKED and, therefore, a dysfunctional organism. Why isn’t a Mayor, was elected on a promise to act in the best interests of the people, listening to the overwhelming majority calling for a PAUSE to the Gordon Street proposals? What reason can there possibly be for not investigating the alternatives? An Engineer who has enjoyed a long and very distinguished career as an engineer and project manager and who has resided in Coffs Harbour for a very long time and who is very familiar with the history of this City – (which would make an excellent episode of “Utopia” – stated categorically that the footings of the existing chambers are sound and it is possible that, not only could the chambers be redeveloped to provide an additional level, it could be redeveloped to provide two additional levels. The NSW Government Architect appointed a firm in Sydney to oversee the original development of the chambers and the BRIEF from the NSW Government Architect to that firm was SPECIFIC; provision had to be made to redevelop the chambers so as to allow for future growth. According to Steve Gooley, and I agree with him, cost of redevelopment would be in the vicinity of $10-15M AUD.
    That is an AFFORDABLE option. Council could then explore the possibility of a public/private partnership to develop a Gallery, Museum, Performing Arts Centre of Excellence and Hospitality Facility in a location easily accessible in all directions, visual from the air, overlooking a pristine golf course, next to Australia’s National Cartoon Gallery. This would enable Council to take advantage of substantial Grant Funding. The current proposals make absolutely no sense. Of course, (as Mr Watts so beautifully articulated last night), Coffs wants its SOUL back. That’s understandable. It doesn’t have one at the present. It is both faceless and soulless. But trying to copy the Port Macquarie Glass house is a dreadful mistake. SOUL will be injected back into the Coffs Central precinct when you close Harbour Drive and turn it into a Sculpture and Art Garden and space for Entertainment. I suppose GORDON STREET “might” and I stress “might” work if you removed the Civic Centre component but you would have to buy up the Church and the buildings on either side. Is this, perhaps, on the drawing board? I wish to goodness the Council would come clean and tell the people exactly: WHAT IS THE AGENDA”? Has Council reached agreements or understandings with neighbours? Is it intended that the planned new auditorium inside the C.Ex Club is to become the Entertainment Precinct? Answers to these questions are extremely important because the answers will paint a picture of what Coffs Central will look like into the future. Will it mirror Jupiters Broadbeach? There is overwhelming evidence that GREAT CITIES have defined entranceways. Gordon Street is NOT an entranceway/gateway to the City. There are two potential entranceways/gateways, neither of which have been investigated. Mr Watts said, “We have been waiting 30 years. We need to do it now or it will never happen.” I agree, the timing is right but the plan to press ahead like a bull at a gate – selling off assets in the process – is not in anyone’s best interests. Years ago, I was the only dissenting member on the Board of the Benevolent Society when a decision was taken to sell the Paddington Women’s Hospital. My fellow board members preferred to take the advice of a leading real estate consultant. Six months after the sale of this property, real estate prices in Sydney escalated dramatically as did rents. Once you sell off the farm and commit to who knows how much debt (nobody knows the numbers), you potentially end up in a very sticky mess. Janne C Lindrum

    • I agree whole heartedly with you Janne.

      What is the real agenda? Why the big hush when certain things are raised and why not transparently and professionally look at all the alternatives as clearly many in the community, probably the majority, want?

      It really does reek of ‘dirty deals done dirt cheap’ to many ratepayers. And as Cr Rhoades said last night trust in the Council is fast ebbing away due no doubt in part to the fact it is split and casting votes seem to be always in favour of vested interests to many of us.

      It could well be a series of Utopia, except it isn’t one little bit funny ha ha. Funny peculiar? Yes!. And is this the new theme song for our Council? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIE4UjBtx-o

  5. Getting the property sales decisions back in the hands of our Council was a major step forward. But with an ‘out of control’ casting vote undermining simple rationality, it is hard to be optimistic about future outcomes.
    Refusal to provide Councillors with an estimate (as they are entitled) to extend one floor on the ‘future planned’ Council Chambers is blind prejudice covering up past mistakes. It is a ‘no-brainer’! The $1M estimate for a quote is pure, unadulterated chicanery! If all buildings are obsolete after 34 years (Clr. Adendorff) then standby for the demolition of our Sydney Opera House and all other cultural icons.

  6. Illiterate old Pensioner.

    Nobody argues against having beautiful premises for all of our cultural venues. Last night the only comment relating to the Performing Arts was: “..it is an issue”! After 30 years without our community meeting place/ Civic Centre, why is it repeatedly ignored and consigned to the trash can? This cultural asset was lost entirely and not replaced. Inadequate they may be, but we do have a Library, a Museum, an Art Gallery, but we still don’t have our Performing Arts venue replacement after three decades. Are we as a community such a ‘cultural desert’?

  7. We need the whole community to overturn & evict the Mayor. Surely there is some way a whole community can legally SACK the Mayor and retract her position?????
    We should be looking into THAT

  8. Another Council Meeting and another Casting Vote. Where was the GM Steve McGrath at this very important Council Meeting?
    Mayor Denise Knight asked for the word ” illegal ” to be removed from a motion. She also gave a stern warning to Cr Keith Rhoades about going down that path. It was very cryptic indeed! Listen …and hear the cryptic clue. It will be available to hear the audio on Monday on Council’s Website.
    Cr Michael Adenorff words fail me with the dribble that comes out your mouth. Is it any wonder Mayor Denise Knight tries to silence you every time you take the floor. I can now understand why you only received actual 65 Votes at the 2016 September elections. Mayor Denise Knight preferenced you her votes and brought you into her alliance. It’s all such a disgrace!
    At November 14th Council Meeting Ms (know it all) Heather McKinnon talked about Champion Leaders coming on board.
    Dr Janne Lindrum & Steve Gooley you are the Champions with your speeches last night. You Blew them out of the water !
    From the sound of the applause it seems like They rallied the “Be Brave “troops finally to make an appearance. I found that amusing .
    The only reason the 1st motion was voted unanimously was that, as Dr Janne Lindrum has many times pointed out in her articulate written correspondence, it should never have been allowed at the July Meeting. They have now covered their rear ends.
    I feel it’s now about Power and Ego for the GM, Mayor Knight and her 2 Chamber of Commerce Cr’s George Cecato (ex President of the Chamber) and Secretary of the Chamber, Cr Michael Adenorff.

    As for Cr Sally Townley she has now lost my vote!

  9. Power, ego, one upmanship, character assassination and stubborn resolve all on display last night ( and that was just the councillors) with a large contingent of support for Mayor Knight et al. Cannot believe the dribble one councillor went on and on about, rather than getting on with the agenda. Another excruciatingly painful, drawnout battle. Sally Townley was in full defence/attack mode last night ( Mayor Knight’s best weapon) against the stedfast, vastly knowledgeable Keith Rhodes and speakers. Well done and thank you once again to Dr Janne Lindrum and Steve Gooley for fine presentations.

  10. Richard McDermott

    I’m sad to say we have to start questioning the bona fides of the mayor on this issue. When a casting vote is used convention hs it that it is used on the side of caution. On such a divisive issue, even more divisive than the airport issue of the 90’s the mayor has a duty to protect the ratepayers from any possible negative externalities that may arise from a project. There are massive questions about this project apart from the greatest community backlash in Council history on any project. One has to question just why the mayor is being so rigid on this matter.

  11. Bonnie Capell

    I was a little bit surprised at the passive-aggressive tone adopted by Acting GM Andrew Beswick. He actually rolled his eyes at certain speakers like an exasperated teenager who doesn’t want to listen!

  12. Tom Strickland

    Happy to hear that the Bunker Gallery on City Hill is to be extended with $3 Million expenditure. Now that’s a good move! I do hope this indicates that the beautiful site of City Hill will rise again in popularity to become the future Cultural Centre for our city. It needs to be, and whatever the challenges, they can be addressed.

  13. Warren Sankey

    After listening to speakers both for and against the motion put forward by Cr Rhoades at the last council meeting, to have civil engineers provide certification and costings to add an additional level to the current council admin. building, it is patently clear that the speakers in favour of the motion won the debate hands down. Both speakers, Steve Gooley and Janne Lindrum, clearly articulated the financial and community benefits of proceeding down this path. Mr Gooley, a land developer, also highlighted that an engineer’s certificate would not only confirm that additional floor(s) could be added to the existing structure, but also that such certification would increase the building’s value substantially should it be sold. He also questioned council officer’s unsupported estimate of $1 million for the same certification and costings to be carried out which he estimated would cost no more than $150,000. But once again councillors vote was tied 4:4 and the motion was defeated with the mayor exercising a casting vote. Why? The only plausible reason is the mayor and her cohort do not want it proven that the $1 million quote for certification and costing to be undertaken was simply a figure plucked out of the air by council staff and presented to the community, just like so many other flawed claims since the CCCC proposal was announced.

    I also recommend people listen to the 28 November council meeting on councils website ‘soundcloud’ to hear Cr Townley’s attempt to mislead councillors and those in the gallery in regards to NSW Government grant funding for the CCCC proposal which Gurmesh Singh has categorically ruled out because of the council chambers/admin offices component in the development.

    • Far from revealing the “myth” about grant funding at the last council meeting, as reported on page 5 in today’s Coffs Coast Advocate, following Steve Gooley’s address to council ruling out grant funding, Cr Townley acknowledged the disparity in views (as to whether the proposal is in fact eligible for grant funding) and actually stated “this is a cause of confusion in the community, so who knows what happened in this process? We will have to look at this.” So how can this statement be construed as the correct position on grant funding as reported in today’s Advocate?

      • Because the Advocate has become a non-questioning, scared about its advertising, mouth piece for the GM’s ‘Gang of Four’ CLB?

  14. In media terms, our local “Aggravate” is a pathetic excuse. Their P5 reporting of the “myth” was deceptive. When Cr. Townley boasted success of $9M Grant application for the CCS. Steve Gooley asked “Have you received it?” , which completely debunked the claim. What chance do we have when the truth is deliberately obscured?

    • I totally agree with you Gemini. The Advocate do not want to get offside with the hand that feeds them.
      That hand being CHCC.
      It’s so pathetic. Another Murdoch rag wanting people to pay subscription and the print version is full of advertising and biased CHCC articles.
      Fake News as Donald Trump says.

    • “None so deaf as those that will not hear!” On Wednesday, our Advocate boasted success of a $9M Grant. By Saturday, the $9M grant was reported axed. Ed: It might be a good idea to check the facts before printing! ` This information was shared quite clearly at last weeks Council Meeting – but you would not listen. Just maybe the tide has turned for truth and justice!

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