Special Council Meetings – 2 and 4 May 2020 (and 12 May)

Two Special Council Meetings over the weekend – to select a new CEO after final interviews, and to progress the Foreshore detailed design and “minor” works.

New CEO

This process is still in motion, however on Saturday, Council met to appoint its preferred candidate as our new CEO from final interviews. Negotiations on salary and package will now occur, and so there should be more good news to announce in due course. As I’ve said to residents in East Ward, our preferred candidate brings highly relevant experience to Cottesloe’s needs, and I hope will be able to bring energy and renewal to the Town and all the work that lies ahead. Stay tuned for more.

Update: on 12 May 2020, Council met to confirm the appointment of new CEO Mr Matthew Scott. It’s a great result, in my view. Full details here.

Foreshore Works – Detailed Design

With the Cottesloe Beach Foreshore “Masterplan” completed and approved last year, the next step is to translate that into a detailed design, placing all the conceptual parts and ideas into a clear and resolved plan. The Masterplan is the ‘concept drawing’ on which we now work out exactly “what goes where, and what it looks like“. It is an exciting stage, as we start to see what our beloved beach will look like, and how we – and future generations – will all be able to use it.

Cottesloe Foreshore Masterplan (2019)

Council appointed ASPECT Studios, an east-coast firm now with a Perth office, who designed Yagan Square, and did the “Masterplan” last year. This continuity brings the benefit of their experience and familiarity with both the project and input and consultation to date, and a ‘buy-in’ to seeing it successfully to completion. However, I sound one note of optimistic caution – the ideal is a ‘final design’ that strives to find a ‘best case’ outcome, by being fresh, creative and “human-centred” (meaning, it caters optimally to us ‘humans’ who will use and ‘live’ in it). With Cottesloe being such a special place to so many, including visitors to Perth, this design can build on that, and provide enjoyment, usability and memories for generations to come. I sincerely hope ASPECT will still be able to bring “fresh eyes” to this next crucial stage of the design, and where appropriate be willing to challenge their own approach and ideas to come up with a design that truly delivers. I look forward to being ‘wowed’!

An aside, despite the time pressures placed on this project, there is no reason why the kind of thinking applied by design ‘rock stars’ like Danish architect Bjarke Engels of BIG Architecture, to find solutions that “wow” and provide human-focussed and sustainable outcomes, cannot be applied here. His ‘turning inside out’ of the Danish Maritime Museum is truly mind-blowing, the cultural empathy shown in his 2010 Danish Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo and local knowledge in his Scala Tower design are impressive.

ASPECT have promised a “human centred design” process and work begins next week on a “Phase 0” Project Visioning workshop. I’ll keep you posted.

Update: the ‘Project Visioning workshop’ has now been changed to simply a “Meet & Greet”, occurring 14 May 2020.

Foreshore Works – Detailed Design

Council’s other decision at 4 May’s Special Meeting was one I had different concerns with – this relates to 3 new Foreshore construction works south of Indiana:

  • New ‘iconic’ steps leading down to the sand from the asphalt path
  • Removing a set of stairs under the Norfolk Island Pines that has become non-compliant with standards
  • Replacing one limestone wall with newer ‘reconstitued’ limestone

The “new steps” are important, not only to provide safe access to the sand (we had temporary steps last summer), but can transform this section of the beach with greater usability. The design is ‘grand’ in scale but this reflects the site logisitics (level changes, sand and finding bedrock). The main concern I have is the decision to move the shower from its current location close to the sand onto the side of the asphalt access road, which is used regularly by Surf Club vehicles and boat trailers, but also rubbish trucks. I am genuinely worried about the dangers that this presents, and whilst I had pushed for alternatives to be considered, none were taken up.

The “removed steps” are arguably non-essential, but non-compliance does present risk (including legally). It is, regrettably, work that needs to be done / money spent.

However, the replacement of one short section of limestone wall next to the new wooden ‘shady seating’ towards Mudurup Rocks is non-essential work, in my view. The rationale is simply “aesthetic”, to replace older “grey” limestone with ‘fake’ reconstituted limestone used in new walls to the north. Not only does this extra spend push the works over Budget, but in my view it removes a ‘heritage’ element of our beach terraces, which at present sits nicely as part of a ‘triptych’ of terraces: as shown in this photo.

However, it presents another more serious issue. The entire cost for these 3 works will be $527,998.60 (!), where the Budget and previous estimates were ~$150,000. Of course, the “new steps” are a significant set of works, and “removed steps” may just have to be done – but, if Council was serious about financial prudence at a time like this, is the aesthetic removal of a limestone wall necessary? I moved an amendment to defer that part of the work, but it was defeated. It seemed clear to me Council simply wished to proceed despite the increased cost. This was hard to stomach, after Council’s very recent veto of the Art Advisory Panel’s selection of sculptures to purchase from Sculpture By The Sea 2020 (a veto that occurred after the event, despite Council specifically allocating money for it, and once artists had done all their unpaid work in bringing so much enjoyment to Cottesloe Beach – not to mention income to the beach businesses – over early March).

Council’s rationale for its art veto was a sculpture purchase was non-essential – the same rationale applies to replacing the limestone wall, and it was in my view another example of inconsistencies in Council decisions. The Town has now spent substantially more money on one limestone wall than it has “saved” on its ‘after the event’ veto of the 2020 art purchase, an art purchase that could have brought enjoyment to so many across Cottesloe. An opportunity lost, in my view.

‘Converse’ by Henning Meeves & Claire Molloy, being installed at Cottesloe Beach

I’m very grateful a generous donor was able to come to the rescue, and donate “Converse” to the Town – a joyful, though-provoking work you can find under the tea-trees on Cottesloe Beach: and think about your relationship with nature, with others and yourself. Money very well spent.

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