Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Snowstorm in Kings Cross

Yes, it snowed last night in Kings Cross when residents attended the second public consultation on the coming upgrade of Fitzroy Gardens, site of the El Alamein Fountain.

After Clover's standard speech about all the wonderful things Council is doing for us, we were shown three design options for the park, supposedly driven by the 800 comments received at the previous consultation.

Despite being repeatedly told this was all about what WE wanted, each of the three council-designed rebuilds all involved a complete repaving, glossing over the fact that the biggest bloc of resident comments had said things like "leave it as it is" and "No more grey granite".

The snow got thicker in a Powerpoint display when we were told one of the things "we didn't like" about the park were the broken and cracked pavers, complete with a picture of a few slightly sunken tiles covered in Ibis-shit.

This of course justifies only better maintenance, not a rebuild. I can show you plenty of broken or cracked grey granite pavers throughout the city, but they don't seem to be used as a rationale for repaving the whole city.

I regularly walk the park and cannot now find any pavers in disrepair. In fact the paving seems in really good nick. One local I spoke to thought the park needed repaving -- "these pavers are disgusting" -- until I pointed out that any new paving would be just as stained in about three months.

At no stage have any structural or functional problems with the park been identified by council.

No, the real agenda here is simply Sydney's renovation disease, a cultural cringe which cannot leave anything to grow old gracefully, obtain a patina of age or exist long enough to come back into fashion. Sydney remains stuck in its teenage-girl phase, changing its clothes three times a day in an effort to impress.

Now Kings Cross will have to endure another year or so as a construction zone with its fallout of damaged businesses, intolerable noise and rampant production of greenhouse gases. So much for Clover's green credentials.

It's not "about us" at all, it's about feeding Council's voracious upgrade department, and it's about sham democracy and sham consultation from our bureautocracy.

Of course another thing "we didn't like" was the markets, particularly the Sunday Rotary markets which, along with the Gardens, has been on Council's hit list for many years. One wonders why, if we don't like it, it continues to make money. Note, the markets were also one of the things we said we "liked".

There was no information on how the markets might continue during the construction work, but the management of both markets "had been consulted". How democratic.

Two of the design options move the children's playground under the trees for shade, right in the firing line of the Ibis-shit. Smart.

The Ibises "were a management issue" we were told, without any specific solutions being offered.

Option Three involved moving the huge mature Fig tree, centrepiece of the park, to one edge. What could possibly go wrong?  

We are getting an upgrade whether we want it or not. It's inevitable as they had decided the budget and appointed the designers well before the initial community consultation (read: 'snowjob'). In that light I recommend Design Option 1, the least radical.

You can send comments to Kathleen Ng --

See the spin on Council's website here.

Report on initial "consultation" here.

Pictured: Beautiful Fitzroy Gardens as they are now. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.


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