05 July 2012

The Golden Egg

The Broadwater

From the school playground, a vista of open water, expansive sky, green bushland horizons and space to run. All a constant flux of wind, tide and weather. What an ideal environment for our future citizens – transcendent and inspiring.

Then I see full-page advertisements in the Express spruiking a plan to take all this away from the kids and the common people for private profit. A plan fervently opposed by a large number of residents. How can this be?

The answer should not be surprising. The terms of reference set by Gosford Council when beginning the process to invigorate the town centre (a good idea), always meant that profit driven corporate development would be the outcome. Other values would be squeezed in only where they didn’t conflict with the property development model or quarantined high value development sites, hence the disregard for the old School of Arts Building, the War Memorial park and the environmental heritage of the Broadwater.

We shouldn’t blame the Councillors, business people and bureaucrats. They are just doing what they know. They have not been educated in aesthetics and well being, the psychology of space and place, they do not have a feeling for how community capital imbedded in the commons translates into economic benefit. While they might protest that this is not the case, their actions say otherwise.

Perhaps they should visit the Gosford City Library and read the old newspapers. For over 100 years Gosford has been described as a sleepy hollow needing some kind of stimulus to bring it to life and to fulfil the promise of its beautiful setting. Then, as now, all strategies have been based on business development together with tourism.
Is this where we came in?

 Don't kill the Goose!

All this is not to say that corporate development does not have a valuable role to play, but sometimes the corporate “cart”, with its free load of civic leaders, runs over the “horse”.

Stage One is a gamble by those with nothing to loose. They are betting with public land and community assets (our taxes), at very long odds (see form guide) to try to get a big win.

With an election looming it is not surprising that no one wants to be seen as not supporting “improvement”, in whatever guise.

The application submitted to the Minister for Planning for State Significance Site status, from the Central Coast Regional Development Corporation, is big on rhetoric (“diverse and vibrant land water interface” – what ever that might mean) with no argument about any certain process whereby the proposed development will result in the outcomes promised. It is a document of faith and hope (like gambling). Charity comes in a distant third ­– like Father Riley’s Horse carrying the wishes of the common people.*

*However in Paterson’s poem of that name, the horse wins.

The  Gosford Times on 1 September 1911 stated:

The Times congratulates the Council upon its firm intention to keep hold of all the water frontage reserves in trust for the people.
These areas must never be parted with, and no Council should have the power, were they ever so inclined, to part with the People’s heritage.
And also in September 1911:

The Peoples Reserves.

To the Editor
Sir, I was glad to see by your report of last meeting that the Shire Council intends to preserve the reserves for the use of the public. Particularly should this apply to the reservations along the foreshores and river frontages. I quite agree with some of the Councillors that the Council should not have the power to trade away the peoples birthright, even were they so inclined, but apparently there are not many Esaus in the Erina Council, and I don’t think they would be hard to convert when they put on the considering cap and remembered that every public man’s policy should be the greatest good for the greatest number. – Yours, &c.  ORION

Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence. Leonardo da Vinci.

“You get what you accept.”  Chris Holstein (when Mayor of Gosford City Council).

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