Residents resist plans to pave dune area
Council plans to remove a three-metre wide strip of dune vegetation to pave a car park as part of the $8.9 million Federally-funded Umina recreation area upgrade have met with resident resistance.
Five local residents' groups have called for the plans to be revised to be more "family-friendly and comfortable".
They are asking that the "upgrade", which provides no extra parking, be designed in consultation with the community and "incorporate improved environmental outcomes".
Representatives of the Peninsula Residents Association, Ettymalong Creek Landcare, Australian Conservation Foundation Central Coast, Umina Dunecare and Grow Urban Shade Trees met with Central Coast Council staff last Wednesday, November 9, to express their concerns.
The groups said that "the proposed upgrade involves the removal of significant established native dune vegetation, yet provides no additional parking spaces".
Peninsula Residents Association secretary Ms Lynne Robertson said: "The car park resurfacing is needed, but removal of vegetation and three metres of the hind dune, especially in such a sensitive location, is entirely unnecessary.
"This area will cater largely for growing children and teens whose passion for skating and the need for improved facilities was identified during the public consultation phase of the skatepark, when over 2500 signatures supported this initiative.
"Shade trees were highlighted as significant components of the upgrade to make it family-friendly and comfortable.
"Yet, when asked about the provision of shade trees in the proposed car park upgrade, a Council staff member stated that 'the engineering to incorporate trees is very hard'."
She said the staff said the council was still conducting the environmental assessment of the plans, however at the same time, gave all indication that no changes would be made to them.
ACF Central Coast branch convenor Mr Mark Ellis said that the $8.25 million dollars of federal funding for the project should be sufficient for Council to take coastal protection and climate change into account.
"With the Peninsula recognised as a climate hotspot with temperatures above the average, more trees can only enhance an impervious layer of tarmac.
"There is nothing safe or family friendly about baking carparks, footpaths and concrete in the summer heat.
"These Federal funds provide an excellent opportunity to create enhanced walkability to the recreation precinct with a direct tree-lined shared pathway that doesn't impact dunes vegetation, together with an upgrade to the existing gravel car park.
"With increasing climate risk from storm surges eroding the edge of the dune system, the car park edge of the dune doesn't need to be cleared for a concrete pathway.
"Council engineers cannot continue to act in an unchanging 'business as usual' manner, and must take into account the impacts of a changing climate."
Grow Urban Shade Trees group representative Ms Debbie Sunartha said: "Removal of valuable dune vegetation would surely contradict policy on climate change adaptation, dune protection and heat mitigation.
"To make matters worse, no trees are being included in what will be an extremely hot shared pathway and car park." said Ms Sunartha.
Mr Ellis said" "We urge Council to comply with the nine management objectives for coastal vulnerability areas in the Coastal Protection Act", including the objective of "the presence of beaches, dunes and the natural features of foreshores, taking into account the beach system operating at the relevant place".
Ms Robertson said: "As ratepayers, we should have been invited to review and provide input to draft plans prior to their finalisation and approval."
She said concerned members of the public were encouraged to contact the administrator Mr Rik Hart "as the people's representative at council".
The council director for Environment and Planning was Dr Alice Howe.
She said it was also important to let local Federal Member for Robertson Dr Gordon Reid know of concerns about the way the Federal money was being spent.
Media release, 11 Nov 2022
Jennifer Wilder, PRA
Media release, 11 Nov 2022
Mark Ellis, ACF Central Coast