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Letter Of The Month: If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Put It Underground And Make Us Pay For It

By Andrew Worssam of Bondi on July 5, 2013 in Other

Photo: Waverley Library Local Studies

Photo: Waverley Library Local Studies

It’s a beautiful day and you decide to head down to Bondi Beach. The sun is shining, the surf is pumping and you… turn off Campbell Parade into a dark, gloomy car park. Down, down, round and round. There are no free spots; hang on, here’s one, three levels down. The air stinks of car exhaust. You then have to wait for a lift to take you to the rear entrance of the pavilion, through which you must walk before you can even get to the beach, let alone whichever end of the beach you want to access.

If this sounds like an unlikely scenario, think again. The iconic open air Bondi Beach car park, which has served us so well since the 1930s, is to be replaced with something more like the Bondi Junction Westfield car park.

It’s a two stage process. Stage 1 sees the car park split into two, the boom gates removed and parking meters installed. The guy in the booth loses his job, but the parking officers will be working overtime checking meters and issuing fines.

Can you envision the chaos and bad behaviour that will come with a two-way/in-and-out traffic flow on this narrow road? This is happening before the end of the year. Did someone mention Waverley residents’ beach parking permits? Can you put them into parking meters?

Soon afterwards, work will commence on a massive underground car park behind the pavilion. Think major excavation, dust, trucks, and endless earth-shattering drilling. Pity the poor kids at Bondi Beach Public School just across the road. As this excavation goes into the water table, it will become a major engineering exercise.

Gee, you say, how come I haven’t heard much about this important change? When you read this, Waverley Council’s ‘community consultation’ will be finished. Its website has some vague, over-optimistic drawings – and a distressing lack of detail. There are some good ideas there, oh, and an underground car park.

The best part? The ratepayers didn’t ask for this turkey and yet we’ll be paying for it for many years to come. This car park will be incredibly expensive. Money that could be spent restoring the decrepit Bondi Pavilion will be paying off the underground car park that no one wants, but no one can avoid. In the worst case scenario, Council will simply farm out the whole project to a company like Wilson Parking.

The small gain in green space is not worth it. There’ll still be a service road along the front, we just won’t be able to use it. There’ll be no net gain in parking spots. There’ll need to be 24/7 lighting, security cameras, exhaust extraction systems, lifts – carbon emissions anyone?

Try to imagine getting your kids and all their beach gear into a lift, then traipsing through the pavilion and up to the north end. Fancy squeezing into a lift in your bikini with a bunch of creepy guys? If you’ve ever enjoyed checking out Bondi Beach from our iconic car park, please reject this wasteful project. Google ‘Waverley Councillors’ and let them know what you think.