A NASTY blame game has erupted at Fremantle Environmental Resource Network (Fern) after a rowdy party disturbed neighbours until 6am and damaged property.
The fallout extended to social media this week, with one board member accusing the Herald of threatening Fern’s future and demanding a full retraction of our article, “Unfrondly times at Fern,” (July 26, 2014).
Mayor Brad Pettitt calls on Fern members to “grow up”, flagging major changes to the organisation’s operating licence, which is renewed monthly.
“I support Fern but that doesn’t include late-night parties and keeping neighbours awake,” Dr Pettitt told the Herald after meeting residents Wednesday. He will meet the Fern board Monday and adds that after discussions with Main Roads Fern may move within 12 months from its iconic site at the corner of High and Montreal Streets to nearby Booyeembara park. The move was on the cards anyway due to the widening of High Street.
Fern convenor Billy Amesz, who has said he will not budge until Main Roads comes to cut down the trees lining High Street, condemned the Herald for using information from Facebook for our story.
He asked whether the Herald spoke to a board member (we did) or a member of Fern other than Simon Peterffy, leader of The Lorax splinter group who claims the party ended officially at 10pm, with some people staying on afterwards.
“The reason I wish to find out this information … is because there have been some allegations in regards to this and I would like to know the facts.”
Mr Peterffy says the board member who contacted the Herald after the party, “shot us all in the foot”.
Board member Karen Bartz also penned a letter of protest, stating she believes she was the unnamed member quoted. The Herald did not name the unnamed board member. Demanding a full retraction, Ms Bartz says, “the party in question while loud and overly long is a one-off error in judgement”. On Facebook she describes the Herald article as bad journalism: “Indeed it would appear that the Fremantle Herald is a threat to the future of Fern.
“I believe there may be an agenda afoot for another party with interest in the space currently used by the Lorax and you have simply been used to this purpose.”
She says there are no squatters at the “harmonious community space”, contradicting Mr Carruthers who says Fern is and has been used as a squat and Mr Amesz who concedes, “there is a history of people sleeping at the Lorax .. I have received eyewitness accounts of squatting as recently as last month”.
In an earlier post, Ms Bartz says “there has been a witchhunt in place against the Lorax for a considerable period of time”, beginning several months ago when other Fern members attempted to evict the activist group which is accused of effectively colonising part of the Fern site.
Mr Amesz says the whole saga is “very sad”. Chris Irving says the Lorax “operates as a separate enclave and is a law unto itself” and it should find a new home.
“People hanging out together, irrespective of whether they are consuming alcohol or smoking ganja, is usually a good thing because there is communication happening and where there is communication there is usually some form of growth,” he says, but adds the group’s use of the space prevents Fern’s growth potential and ability to reach people from all walks of life.
by CARMELO AMALFI