Yet, tonight’s meeting saw a full media desk with five reporters observing what was always going to be a short and relatively uncontroversial run of business.
Proof: The whole thing was done and dusted in 20 minutes.
And let me get the spoiler out of the way early, as Cr Rob Mills told me on the Sunday before the meeting, Wet and Wild or a fun park of that magnitude is not coming to Camden. But there may be multiple small water parks coming to a playground near you. Where they will be placed and which suburbs and playgrounds will benefit from these wet little wonderlands is very much still to be decided and there were some interesting comments made on this by councillors (see below - last item).
Now, let’s go through the order of business.
There were no public addresses, no mayoral minute. So, it was straight down to business.
Ord 01 - 17 Allison St, Oran Park. The applicant had really done the work to make the neighbours happy, removing a rear balcony and elevating the window-sill height to a level that was, according to Cr Eva Campbell, “as tall as I am”. All the councilors approved the proposal and Cr Campbell publicly commended the applicant for being prepared to lose important features to reach a compromise.
Ord 02 - 36 Radisich Loop, Oran Park: After the microphone finally decided to work, Cr Therese Fedeli got this one on the way to approval but not unanimously. Cr Cindy Cagney and Cr Eva Campbell had two concerns.
- The dual driveways were an issue because of how they would affect street parking with only 5.3m between each drive. Do it for one and you have set a precedent.
- The lack of sunlight for the neighbours due to the overshadowing of the two storey house was also a concern. It meant that a sitting area under a pergola with a solid roof would barely see two hours of sunlight a day.
Split vote - Cr Cindy Cagney and Cr Eva Campbell opposed.
Ord 03 - Investment monies: This was just a box-ticking exercise for the council. Cr Therese Fedeli congratulated council officers on the report and it was accepted and passed unanimously.
Ord 04 - Pecuniary interest returns: Cr Peter Sidgreaves indicated these were required under legislation. Once again accepted and passed unanimously. The pecuniary interest returns are available to the public on request, although copies cannot be given out to the public according to council officers.
Notice of motion – A water play park(s) for Camden: This was clearly the headline act of the night.
The mayor, Cr Lara Symkowiak presented some images indicating the type of water play park she was proposing. (I will see if I can get a copy of these images and reproduce them here later, assuming they are not affected by copyright). Along the way she clearly made the point, “no, this is not a theme park”.
“The intention is for the council to investigate suitable locations, look at cost considerations and for council officers to investigate land that is already owned by the council,” Cr Symkowiak said.
“The playgrounds will not be ticketed and will be freely accessible and close to the homes of residents.”
Essentially the council is looking at playgrounds that include water play elements. The council would also look at heating the water, so that the period where they can be used will extend well into spring and autumn – potentially nine months every year.
No councillors opposed the idea of water play parks and a number spoke in support of it.
- Cr Ashleigh Cagney thought it was an excellent idea, describing it as a great alternative, especially as a mother of two children. “It seems like a great way for them to expel energy,” she said.
- Cr Eva Campbell agreed. She thought it was a productive activity and asked that the council officers investigate solar heating of the water as this would make the playgrounds more affordable over time potentially meaning more could be built. She noted that half a million dollars had been set aside for water play parks after discussions in 1999 but a newly elected council in 2004 had decided it was not an appropriate facility and took the money out and spent it elsewhere. She was hopeful the water play parks would go ahead this time.
- Cr Cindy Cagney supported the playground but asked that council officers look at the potential of putting the playgrounds in some of the older suburbs where play facilities have declined. She said it could be an opportunity to refurbish old playgrounds at the same time as adding the water parks to these areas.
- Cr Therese Fedeli said it would add to current playgrounds and noted, “where did Mount Annan children and families go before the Birriwa playground was put up”.
- Cr Peter Sidgreaves also supported it, saying the proposed water playgrounds were recreational facilities, not a theme park. He noted that Blacktown, Parramatta and Campbelltown councils all had similar facilities. "It's time," he said, an unusual phrase for a Liberal to use as it is a classic Labor catch line.
We now await the recommendations brought back by council officers, which of course we will publish here when they are available over the coming months.