BY OUR CIVIC ROUNDSMAN
Ryde’s Civic Centre is expected to be demolished and replaced with a new building under a Liberal Party backed motion passed by seven votes to five at Ryde City Council last Tuesday night.
The motion authorises General Manager Gail Connolly to prepare a report on an international architectural design competition to provide an ‘iconic vision’ for a new civic, commercial or residential building as well as a master plan, business case and a public consultation process.
Previous attempts by Ryde’s Liberal councillors to demolish and replace the existing Civic Centre were defeated with the election of former Independent Mayor, Ivan Petch but his retirement and the recent by election victory of Liberal Clr Jane Stott has given the Liberals a majority on the council, with the casting vote of the Mayor Bill Pickering.
Mayor Pickering spoke in support of the motion and claimed ratepayers are spending a million dollars a year to maintain the existing building and that ‘at the end of the day, something has to be done’ about it.
With the Liberals holding a majority on the Council, only Independent Councillors Terry Perram and Denise Pendleton spoke against the motion.
“The only viable thing is for residential units on this site and as far as I’m concerned that’s it for me,” Clr Perram said.
“You (Liberals) have got the numbers, so go ahead and build your blocks of home units because the State Government is bludging off residential developments and its not going to stop you.”
Councillor Pendleton was elected on the back of widespread community opposition to redevelopment and blasted the motion.
“This decision will be a prize with a cash incentive, a 24 storey prize that you (Liberals) can dress up however you like,” she said.
The Council debate saw community speakers for and against the proposal that included Peter Colthorpe and Alan Patrick who acknowledged the controversial nature of the motion but advocated for a new building that ‘people can be proud of’ and would serve to accommodate what Mr Patrick described as ‘the important assets’ of council staff and archival records.
Jill Hartley, Sheryl Barton, Diane Erickson and Jennie Minifie spoke against the motion and stressed that previous opposition to redeveloping the Civic Centre had attracted more than 3,600 letters of community opposition.
“You (Liberals) tried it by stealth before and now you’re trying it again, what about calling for a referendum?” Jill Hartley said.
Ms Barton agreed.
“The previous twin towers proposal was dead and buried and now community trust is at an all time low and cynicism is at an all time high.”
Ms Minifie from the Ryde Community Alliance said the motion demonstrated a lack of respect for the people who built the existing Civic Centre half a century ago.