Freo singing from the wrong song sheet

COLIN NICHOL has heard the sirens’ song and gives a rundown of how he feels Fremantle council has made a hash of plans to revitalise Arthur Head by installing promoter Sunset Events and their dream of a tavern.

THE poles sing and like the deadly sirens in Homer’s tale of Odysseus, their harmonies embody agonies past and more to come; not so much a song as a warning wail.

It seems for as long as those winds vibrate the harmonics of lamp-posts in front of the J Shed Arts Studios near South Mole, so will the contention continue over use of the green space and J Shed Arts Studios they guard.

While the wind blows and the poles sing, Fremantle city council battles with a solution for the long-time problem of accommodating the Sunset Events promoter’s interests under their lights, at Arthur Head Reserve.

A development such as theirs would require large attendances to be viable, there is no way around that.

If that factor is unacceptable, as it has been found to be, any period of negotiation and arbitration would result in little more than turning the very long established J Shed creative artists and their livelihoods into collateral damage.

• One of the singing poles down at Arthur Head.


What follows council’s decision now will be three months of protracted negotiations from entrenched positions.

The contenders are self-evidently irreconcilable, but council has to give the appearance of trying to unscramble the mess they have so comprehensively made for themselves.

Even an indoor cafe, the original intention for Unit 1, would not be viable from start-up, the area is too isolated, it may also be observed there is some competition around Fremantle and at best, custom would be spasmodic.

Council is beginning at the wrong end of the matter: promote the area and develop access and visibility.

For what Sunset Events wants, large crowds are required and the “beer garden” style operation they envisage and have tested, is not tolerable to all except themselves and even then, local weather conditions eleven months of the year present a drastic challenge to such open-air events.

Plans, and there have been several, to extend the cafe toward the bay with verandas and such, would be only the more inviting to the howling Roaring Forties and tune up the wailing warnings of the hovering siren-poles.

If “activation” in the perception of council is represented in booze and rock and roll and the rest, then that is apparently what is presented as the intention for J Shed precinct in order to increase interest in the area.

How the matter has gone this far must be a question haunting the town hall, it has been five years.

Any answers or rationale presented must only increase their discomfort.

Recent replacement of those sentinel poles has not stilled their song, changing it to a slightly darker, more warning tone.

But their unchanging message continues, that while those winds may go on forever, a closure to this matter cannot. Council should not continue to defer or delegate but promptly determine this matter. The sirens’ warning will only get louder.

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