A proposal to look at the feasibility of opening a restaurant-cafe in Oatley Park was quickly withdrawn at the last minute at the recent George River Council meeting.
Councillor Vince Badalati was due to lodge a notice of motion calling for the council general manager to prepare a report in early 2018 looking at the restaurant proposal for the park.
The report was to look at options for the location of the proposed cafe-restaurant, indicative designs, construction costs, planning requirements and tendering options for its future operation.
He also called for the report to identify potential sources of funding and possible timeframe for its construction.
The reaction was swift from the Oatley West community already battle-hardened from their long campaign over the future of Myles Dunphy Reserve.
Their protests at the Oatley Park restaurant proposal included “outraged opposition”, “surprise” and “a waste of ratepayers money”. These were all voiced in letters to the council calling on councillors to reject it.
Residents had registered to address the council’s December 18 meeting, calling on councillors to reject the proposal.
But Cr Badalati withdrew the notice of motion at the last minute.
One of the objectors, Oatley resident Melina Amerasinghe was still allowed to voice her concerns to the councillors on behalf of the community.
“Most residents were surprised when this motion came up,” she said.
“It is important for the future of the park that we remember why it was created.
“The park is already at capacity. Any commercial activities would be in contravention of the Oatley Park Plan of Management.
“We hope that no motion like that comes up in the future.”
Peter Mahoney said that Cr Badalati was at odds of the objectives of the Oatley Park Plan of Management.
This aims to protect and preserve the bushland for its value as a vegetation and wildlife remnant, to prevent further loss of bushland and minimise infrastructure development in all areas, and to preserve, protect and enhance the historical and cultural integrity of Oatley Park.
Anne Wagstaff also said the construction of a cafe/restaurant was completely at odds with this objectives of the park’s Plan of Management.
“Investigating the feasibility of constructing such a development within Oatley Park as well as preparation of indicative designs and estimation of construction costs would be a waste of ratepayers’ money,” she said.
Sharyn Cullis objected to the proposal on the grounds of road safety of other users, park security after dark with extended restaurant hours and the possibility the park will become a haven for illegal dumpers of asbestos .
“If park visitors want coffee and food, there are at last count 18 such establishments just a short drive, ride or walk down the road in either Oatley or Oatley West,” she said.
“There is no park precinct that offers a suitable location for a new coffee shop.
“Some places need to be left free of commercial profiteering and Oatley Park is one of those.
“I am not aware that any elected councillor stood on a platform that included the highly contentious proposition that our precious parks, especially Oatley Park, should be open to commercial profiteering.”