THERE’S been some backlash against Bicton Liberal candidate Matt Taylor’s plan to revitalise Bicton Baths, with locals concerned it’ll lose its quiet, laid-back feel.
But Mr Taylor says the residents have over-reacted to protect their turf as he’s only secured funding to review the site and is simply looking at options for improvement (“Bicton splash,” Herald, February 18, 2016).
Graham Mackie and neighbours Alia Neesham, Andrew Foley and Graeme Henderson live just above the baths and say an artist’s impression showing the car park being pushed back from the beach and a two-storey cafe have them worried.
Ms Neesham says one of the things that attracts mums and kayakers, particularly older ones, to the baths is the convenience of parking so close to the water and picnic area.
She also fears a cafe will change the nature of the area and says it’s unlikely to be sustainable because the park is pretty deserted during the cooler months.
“We’re not against any change, but the changes that have been suggested aren’t in keeping with the laid-back feel of Bicton Baths,” Ms Neesham says.
Mr Foley says there’s also plenty of available parking on the verge of quarantine park or in a car park at the top.
Mr Mackie says rather than shift the car park, he’d like to see clean fill used to reclaim some of the baths and the picnic area extended towards the current shoreline. He says this will help solve the problem of oyster shells which have to be regularly cleared from the site.
From 1896 to the 1930s the area was used by an oyster-shucking firm whose staff simply cast the shells into the shallows where they’re said to be a metre deep.
“The enlarged area is well located for picnickers, is adjacent to the current toilet/change sheds, eliminates the need to remove a well-used, convenient car park and leaves Quarantine Park alone,” Mr Mackie says.
He says a shark-proof net could also be added for safety, and any unused funds could go towards putting toilets upstream near the jetty by Blackwall Reach.
Mr Taylor agrees the artist’s impression has caused some angst, but says it was a requirement of a funding commitment and doesn’t represent a pre-determined outcome.
“People are talking about the two-storey cafe, but whether there’s a cafe is unresolved, and there’s been some good suggestions about getting food vans during summer months. People have also talked about doing the toilets up and that’s a great idea.”
Mr Taylor says it’s a great opportunity to get some funding for the area and he’s received great feedback from people about the need to upgrade the baths.
by STEVE GRANT