COUNCIL EXTENDS SUBMISSION DEADLINE FOR BONDI PAVILION PLAN
Waverley Council last week agreed to extend the deadline on community submissions for the Bondi Pavilion Conservation and Upgrade Plan until Sunday, 13th of March 2016.
This decision springs from community feedback delivered at a Meet the Mayor event earlier this month where an explanatory session on the plan - which involves extensive restoration of the building and the construction of a new theatre and park area - unexpectedly turned into a formal meeting.
Residents of Bondi in attendance urged Mayor Sally Betts to extend the deadline beyond the original date of the 28th of February, claiming it simply wasn’t enough time for “proper consultation” on the fate of the National and State Heritage-listed Pavilion.
These claims were reiterated by a community address at the council meeting, with a local resident adding that “more details [should] be put forward so we can make an informed decision.”
While Greens Cr. Dominic Kanak and former mayor Labor Cr. John Wakefield delivered passionate speeches in support of a series of diminishing deadline extensions, they were consistently defeated by a unanimous block vote of Liberal councillors, holding majority.
“We’re dealing with one of the most significant assets this council owns… one of the most significant assets in the country,” Cr. Wakefield argued.
Cr. Wakefield also issued a number of scathing denunciations against Mayor Sally Betts, accusing her of “throwing some crumbs to the public” with the two-week extension and bemoaning the move as “political” and “PR spin”.
Cr. Wakefield’s speeches provoked a supportive response from the gallery, with attendant Bondi residents alternately clamouring for better representation of their interests and heckling the mayor and council. When it became clear that no further extension was forthcoming, most residents left in frustration.
Other defeated motions concerning the Bondi Pavilion Project included a push for a community consultation with the heritage architects undertaking the reconstruction, the acceptance of a change.org petition pushing for a deadline extension, and an itemised listing of what the $38m allocated to the project would be spent on.
Waverley Council did, however, agree to put a square-metre breakdown of the space and its intended usage online.
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by SAM BARAN, The Bondi Daily chief reporter
IT WAS A QUIET, pleasant Sunday afternoon in the Seagull Room at the Bondi Pavilion. A gentle sea breeze was whispering in through open windows, cooling down the hot and curious residents who had come to see Waverley Council’s renovation plans for the historic building.
Around the edges, a spokesperson for Mayor Sally Betts was walking us through easeled representations of the Pavilion’s re-design, fielding questions and commenting on various facts and features. Little did she know the storm that was about to erupt in that quiet rom.
“Sometimes people wander in through the back and feel like they’re not meant to be here,” she explained, then added confidentially: “Right now people mainly use it for the toilets.”
Built in 1928, the Bondi Pavilion has a long and colourful history as the vibrant heart of Bondi Beach, widely regarded as Sydney’s most famous and which draws millions of visitors per year to its sun-drenched expanse. Over the years, the Pavilion has seen use as a home for grand balls, thriving festivals, and children’s weekend dance classes alike, and has been formally recognised by the Heritage Council as possessing great cultural and historical significance.
Recently, however, the Pavilion has begun to show its age. Decades of deterioration have left it battered, outdated, inflexible and unable to even meet modern fire-safety codes. And so we were being presented with the details for the council’s Bondi Pavilion Upgrade and Conservation Project, intended to not only restore the structure to its former glory, but improve it as well.
“We’re aiming for a five green-star [ie, environmental] rating, and that’s really ambitious,” enthused a council spokesperson.
The first storm-clouds bean to gather 15 minutes after the meeting began when a vocal resident called the room’s attention to herself, shattering the quiet, intimate exchange, and demanding a panel discussion on the future of the building. Despite protestations from the Mayor and assembled councillors, residents were soon pulling up chairs and arraying them in battle lines in front of the beleaguered officials.
As the councillors exchanged worried glances with each other, the vocal woman declared the impromptu forum officially open.
Immediately, hands were being raised and questions thrown at the harried-looking Mayor, who nonetheless responded professionally with a reminder that all concerns should be addressed to the council via online or written submissions.
“I’m just asking some questions, and not everybody has time to make a submission. This is my submission!” exclaimed someone who identified herself as a mother of four.
“This isn’t accurate community representation,” complained another, referring to the three-week deadline for community input.
Soon, the councillors relented and a stormy Q&A got underway. Overly rowdy participants were shouted down by the crowd.
It was an impressive display of frank, spontaneous debate, and the residents’ love for this historic centre of their community, tarnished with age though it might be, was abundantly clear.
The greatest fears expressed seemed to be for a perceived loss of public space and the threat of “privatisation by stealth”, in large part triggered by a lack of definite detail on how commercial leases would be assigned in the renovated building, together with accessibility for local dance and martial arts classes.
A proposed new theatre on the ground floor to replace the 40-year-old first-floor Bondi Pavilion Theatre proved a particular point of contention.
“There’s nowhere near enough detail for us to feel comfortable with it,” argued Peter Winkler, the former musician-in-residence at the Pavilion for 20 years. “We need real plans, not a fancy little drawing of a building with a thing.”
One third-generation resident went so far as to accuse Mayor Sally Betts of not understanding local concerns. After a lengthy tirade, he stormed out, claiming he was too worked-up to stay. “Unless you swim where I swi, and walk where I walk, you’re not a citizen. You’re not a local,” he said.
One issue everyone seemed to be in agreement about was the $10m allocated to restoring the heritage nature of the building.
A few funding concerns aside, the council’s choice of heritage architects Tonkin Zulaikha Greer -- restorers of Sydney’s Eternity Playhouse and bustling Carriageworks – met with general approval. Indeed, residents seemed positively eager for the planned removal of post-1970s non-heritage additions, and the reintroduction of original features, like the open-air amphitheatre.
Some residents said they had come along not to dispute the plans but because they wanted to be part of reinvigorating their beach-side community.
Local Bondi artist Martin Greer bemoaned the lack of a museum in the plans, which he said drew traffic away from Bondi and towards its rival Manly, whose art-gallery-and-museum had been the first regional metropolitan venue of its kind in New South Wales, he explained. “I have twenty years of surfing photos and I’d love to paint a mural on the wall of the museum,” he added.
The meeting ended after an hour and a half. The council’s plans for the renovation of Bondi Pavilion are available on the Waverley Council website.
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Bondi gym owner, Jeannette Gevers, has became World Champion Powerlifter in her division - for the eighth time.
She has just returned from Denver, Colorado, where she competed in the World Masters Two World Powerlifting Championship.
A petite 61 kilos,Jeannette lifted the winning weight of 157.5 kilos to win the championship, competing for the first time in the over 50s division.
Jeannette preparing to lift
A very youthful-looking 53, Jeannette met The Bondi Daily in one of the two Bondi gyms she owns and runs with her partner Jim O'Donovan (the Bondi Beach Fitness and Rehab and the Bondi Beach Bodies Fitness).
She began powerlifting when she emigrated from Amsterdam, Hollad, at the age of 26.
"I was World Champion seven times in a row. Then I took two years off before competing again this year. It's a particularly good activity for women over 50," she says. "The competition in the over 50s Division was fierce. I found myself competing with top lifters from all over the world - th USA, New Zealand, Taiwan, Canada, Russia, China, Europe..you name it."
Powerlifting, Jeannette explained, differs from weightlifting. Weightlifters lift the weight straight up from the floor to above their heads, whereas powerlifters lift weights in three different ways: there's the Squat, the Bench Press, and the Shoulder lift.
Jeanette says the great thing about powerlifting is that you can do it by yourself because the main thing is you're competing against yourself. "It's about bettering yourself and you always try to do better each time," she says.
Powerlifting is very good for the figure, as Jeannette's svelte shape attests. She eats a high protein diet and mixes us up her special "power juice drink" each day consisting of kale, celery, ginger and other energy ingredients.
Jeanete plans to enter the World Championships again next year and she has a very good chance of winning yet again.
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