Garigal National Park Kiosk Proposal



About this Item
SpeakersHumpherson Mr Andrew; Hartcher Mr Chris
BusinessPrivate Members Statements

GARIGAL NATIONAL PARK KIOSK PROPOSAL

Mr HUMPHERSON (Davidson) [5.41]: I would like to take this opportunity to raise the issue of the now notorious Garigal kiosk, which has had a rather turbulent history over the past 12 months or so. In 1991 the kiosk building was approved by the Davidson Park Trust. That park has been incorporated in the Garigal National Park. Construction of the building commenced on 3rd June, 1992, during a long weekend - the first opportunity for many residents, including me, to become aware of this particular project. That was part of the reason for so much widespread community opposition to the project and its potential impact on nearby residents. The building is located below Roseville Bridge in Garigal National Park, a couple of hundred metres across the water from residences in Roseville. Many other houses, including those in Castle Cove, look down on the area. All local residents know that the location is quiet and peaceful at times other than busy daytime hours. However, one of the promontories in that area is named Echo Point, for very good reason. The potential adverse impact of the kiosk is primarily that of noise, especially in the evenings, floodlighting at night, and the impact of parking and traffic on the adjoining park.

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As a result of that public opposition the honourable member for Willoughby, the Minister for the Environment and I had a number of meetings with concerned residents. Those residents made clear their opposition to this project. They also said that they wanted the Davitts, the proponents of the project, dealt with fairly. Residents perceived, correctly, that the Davitts were the meat in the sandwich and, whatever the outcome, should not be disadvantaged. After a process during which Willoughby and Ku-ring-gai councils took the matter to the Land and Environment Court and a demolition order was placed on the building because approval was ruled invalid, an environmental impact statement was undertaken and ultimately determined after examination by the Director of Planning, who made a number of recommendations.

Those recommendations proposed significant alterations to the structure of the building, roof design, size and seating capacity, but also proposed fairly strict operating hours. Given these restrictions and the basis on which the Davitts had agreed to construct and operate the kiosk, a decision was taken to offer to buy the Davitts out of the arrangement. The Minister for the Environment considered that was the most appropriate and fair way to approach the matter. The Davitts have indicated to me and, I understand, to the Minister, a desire to vacate the building. There has been agreement about a process whereby they will vacate and compensation will be payable on arbitration. That arbitration will take place, it is hoped, in the not too distant future. It is important to note that the Davitts will not be out of pocket.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service to date has paid Mr and Mrs Davitt $159,000 in regard to this matter. That amount includes their legal costs and mortgage repayments on the loan for the construction of the facility. All their holding costs have been paid. The arbitration process, which will not cost the Davitts anything, will see a fair and just outcome. The Davitts will be relieved of their potential concerns in regard to the project. I turn to the future of the building. It has been proposed by many residents that it be demolished. Other local residents have expressed their concerns to me about the possible waste of such an asset. Notwithstanding its history, some residents who do not live nearby consider the building to be a major asset to the park and perceive its possible demolition as a waste of a most useful resource.

It is a worthwhile exercise to explore alternative uses for the building. I understand that the National Parks and Wildlife Service is considering future uses commensurate with its location and, what is most important, operating only in daylight hours. One suggestion is that the building be used as an education resource facility serving local schools, so that schoolchildren can use it to learn about the surrounding aquatic environment. Some residents regard the structure as a local community asset of potential great benefit to those who use the park and who treasure their local area. [Time expired.]

Mr HARTCHER (Gosford - Minister for the Environment) [5.46]: Ever since I became Minister for the Environment in July 1992 the ongoing saga of the Davitts' kiosk and its problems at Garigal National Park have been a daily visitor to the operation of my portfolio. Throughout that time both the honourable member for Davidson and the honourable member for Willoughby, who is also the State Treasurer, have been very active in strongly arguing the concerns of their constituents. Both members have conveyed to me the concern of their constituents about the inappropriate size of the building, excessive noise and light, or traffic emanating as a result of conduct of such business at that kiosk as would be allowed under the proposed lease.

Both members have worked hard to ensure that the concerns of their constituents have been properly addressed. I commend the honourable member for Davidson and the honourable member for Willoughby for the courteous yet firm way in which they argued their case over the past 18 months. I am pleased that the issue of the kiosk seems to be fairly close to resolution, as the honourable member for Davidson says. The National Parks and Wildlife Service is negotiating with Mr and Mrs Davitt in an attempt to reach an amicable solution without recourse to litigation, a solution which would ensure they are fairly treated and that any amount properly and lawfully due to them would be determined by independent arbitration. Though that arbitration is yet to take place, I am hopeful that arrangements to set it in place will be finalised soon.

As to future usage of the building, I note the argument of the honourable member for Davidson. I assure him that I would not want, as I am sure the National Parks and Wildlife Service would not want, any usage of the building which would cause ongoing concern to his constituents in the sense of causing extensive traffic, light or noise. The honourable member's constituents can be assured that their peaceful and tranquil lifestyle in that area will continue unaffected. [Time expired.]