The last few days there has been a lot of email discussion regarding the Bathers Beach development, as a consequence of an email from Rob Harrison, Chairman of FICRA to a City officer. This prompted Councillor Rachel Pemberton to reply that a working group would be formed, as discussed at a recent meeting with the Mayor, but that there were other priorities. After several emails from members of FICRA, the architect of the development, recently retired Agnieshka Kiera joined the discussion.
I will not publish her email as I do not have her permission, but am happy to do so and Rob Harrison has replied, so I ask you to make up your own minds.
I have written at length regarding this development and its problems on this blog in September, so you may want to revisit my comments and photographs back then.
Thanks for your email and I respect your opinion, but I am sorry, you are wrong on many counts. FICRA Committee are elected/nominated to represent the Fremantle Inner City Residents. We are not paid and do it for Fremantle and our community. We are the peak resident and ratepayer body. We are acknowledged by the City through agreements, funding, planning advice and monthly meetings with City reps including the Mayor, CEO and consult regularly on issues within our Precinct. We are responsible owners, residents and ratepayers who value, acknowledge and respect good work. We work closely with the City, our elected members, businesses, the Port, PTA, Police, and other government and private areas. We previously acknowledged that the Bathers Beach boardwalk, the new lawn, Kidogo and a lot of other work has been a definite improvement to the area. Please don’t confuse the issues. What we are strongly opposed to is the excessive hard unusable surfaces and in particular the limestone/quartz outside Kidogo. And I am sure you understand the reasons. FICRA is not about me or any one individual as you suggest. We have a variety of strong and diverging views on almost every issue in Fremantle, but I will say that the Bathers Beach issue has galvanised opinion with many people are very angry – me included.
As the architect and mastermind of this work you may find it difficult to acknowledge that ratepayers and residents don’t agree with you, however we have been up front from day one. When we realised this bad piece of heritage interpretation was being imposed on us by one or two people we objected strongly and our objections remain today and will continue until this issue is sorted out. Please don’t get the overall project confused with the limestone/quartz surface. The Mayor, Rachael, Tim, the City, FICRA, Business, Arts community are all looking at other options and getting quotes to undo and repair this limestone area. And that is our priority when the working group commences before we head off in other directions. You may be surprised to know some of the other issues that concern ratepayers and residents about this project include.
- Lack of proper consultation and listening to resident groups and ratepayers. This project displayed a bad attitude of “We know what’s best for Fremantle people and we don’t need to listen” Residents and ratepayers are over this attitude and welcome changes.
- A Project that failed to properly consider the needs of residents today and into the future. An “Urban Beach” as you like to call it is a beach, where people want to come and enjoy. Why should residents walk to South Beach for this enjoyment as you suggest when we have a beach on our door step. Black concrete and dusty limestone is not enjoyable for anyone.
- A substantial amount of money spent for some, but little improvement. The project failed to maximise what could have been achieved for Fremantle through proper consultation with the people. We didn’t get the best bang for our buck.
- An extremely poorly managed project. An ad-hoc approach to project management. This has been a big lesson to the City and residents and hopefully will never happen again.
- No project oversite and unexplained overruns and delays – Talk to businesses and residents.
- A Project that has some good features but still plenty of substandard work that with proper over-site should not have occurred: Including:
- Lights still not connected on the deck
- Lights still not connected to the Mortuary
- Wires hanging down under the lookout boardwalk
- A Water fountain that directs excess water onto concrete instead of lawn.
- A shower wrongly located next to the lookout. On the design plans it was a seat. Its location is an eye sore and interferes with the view and photographs people may take and hasn’t been used since installation
- Dominated by hard surfaces.
- The Dust Bowl. Yes the Heritage interpretation that takes you back in time to the Kerosene Store days when things were tough. Fortunately today the building is a very popular and successful art gallery and the fine dust and grit gets into peoples eyes, over their cloths, into the gallery and is slippery under foot, particularly for our elderly who regularly visit the gallery. It looks awful and I am sorry but no one supports poor planning under the guise of heritage interpretation. The harsh climatic conditions you mention, are no different at Bathers than any other Beach but we have the added limestone and dust swirling around. Its basically another unusable dusty or muddy (depending on the time of the year) car park on the beach in the best location in Fremantle. Its a wasted opportunity of a prime site protected from the elements that could be used for many things
- Wood-chips and plants. You were at the first community crisis meeting when it was agreed this area would be sand for kids to play, however we ended up with wood-chips and tacky plants that the City kindly removed
- Massive Black Slab of concrete. I am not sure if that is another heritage interpretation but its hot, dark and unusable for people going to the beach. FICRA responsibly acknowledge this is here to stay due to cost implications removing it, as its steel reinforced for vehicles and has become another very popular car park. Try walking on it bare footed on a hot day like the vast majority of people visiting will do this summer.
- The Old Mortuary has structural beams that are far too low and unfortunately people bang their heads as they come and go.
- Exposed plastic pipes from Kidogo. These are of little heritage value, look shabby and can quite easily be broken. They are probably not legal
- Kidogo water waste system. Kidogo is the standout at Bathers, and without it during the recent World Sailing Championships Bathers would have been a deserted dusty worksite. Talk to Joanna about this issue please.
- Rubbish bins. There have been issues with these being too small but it has been fixed with the kind support of the City and Brad. As you well know small bins equal rubbish going everywhere.
- The over engineering of pedestrian crossing. We appreciate a lot of work went into achieving this however its well and truly over engineered and creates a metal barrier between the City and Bathers. The complicated metal mess interrupts the intention of Marine Terrace continuing onto the Ocean as planned.
- Loose rocks around Kidogo. Not even the early convicts were expected to walk on such hard and sharp rocks. They are a problem for lawn mowing and projectiles.
- Dangerous trip areas. Walk around the development and you will see metal lids, wooden barriers, bolts coming loose and other areas raised above landscape and a danger to the unsuspecting resident and visitor. This is poor workmanship and should have been managed during the project and demanded it be fixed prior the final payment being made
- Rail Carriages. Another good idea where the execution went wrong. These have been off the rails longer than on and sat there for months broken and damaged.
It is a shame we have got to this stage with what should have been a major Fremantle success story, fully supported by all. Had a few people listened to others from the start and made some very minor changes instead of digging their heals in we would not be discussing this today. It would be great if you could find the time to help the residents fix these issues instead of criticising me and others for wanting it done right. It would be wonderful if you could come to the site and speak with FICRA reps and Joanna and see for yourself the issues. Arthur Head and Bathers Beach has a completely different feel to other parts of Fremantle and has been the best kept secret for years and finally it is getting the attention it deserves so families, backpackers, students, visitors, and residents can come down and enjoy it. FICRA is looking forward to working with the City, artists and businesses as we look to linking the City, the Port, J Shed, Fishing Boat Harbour and other areas with Bathers Beach.
Rob @ FICRA