FREMANTLE council’s potential sale of its leisure centre car park continues to kick around as an election issue, despite an attempt by incumbent Rachel Pemberton to kill it off this week.
The car park sale came up at a City Ward candidates forum on Thursday evening where the council’s management of its assets provided some of the more lively debate.
When a resident raised the sale, Cr Pemberton said she’d “got to the bottom” of the issue just that day and could categorically rule it out, only to be contradicted by challenger John Dowson who said a “senior staffer” at council had recently confirmed it was “on the table”.
“I don’t think the staff get to decide,” a miffed Cr Pemberton responded.
Earlier in the day she had tried to brand the sale a “rumour” in response to last week’s Herald letters (“Healthy beacon,” September 21).
When we pointed out that it was listed in the council’s own 10-year financial plan, she was unaware of the document and had to check in with mayor Brad Pettitt and the council’s bean counter Glen Dougal.
“You are right, it is in the old plan,” Cr Pemberton said.
“But it isn’t in the current 10-year plan which has been developed over the last 12 months (and will be published by the end of the year).
“We have had some very conceptual discussions about some commercial development opportunity in the leisure centre precinct that could help to fund the reconfiguration of parking, improvements to the road network and an upgrade to the leisure centre gym and facilities – but there would be no loss of parking.”
The 10-year plan is almost a year overdue.
There was a loud cheer from the modest crowd when one resident described the defence department’s Liv apartments as the “zombie building” because of poor sales and the resulting lack of life along Victoria Street.
Cr Pemberton acknowledged the response to Liv had been “disappointing” but revealed that pre-sales of apartments planned for the old Spotlight sale had reached the point they’d been able to get financial backing and construction could now proceed.
by STEVE GRANT