Freo's View

ITS APRIL FOOLS. SMILE!

Posted in april fools, city of fremantle, fremantle society, Uncategorized by freoview on April 1, 2019

 

fools-1

 

I missed the Blessing of the Fools today to celebrate April Fools Day, so I publish a golden oldie I took a few years ago at Fremantle’s St John’s church.

I  also have to make a confession that my blog posts about the sale of the Hilton hotel site to Twiggy Forrest, the secret merger talks between Freo and East Freo councils, and the departure from Fremantle of Fremantle Society president John Dowson were all made up stories to celebrate the first day of April.

And I added the City of Fremantle’s funny April Fools about Freo Time and daylight saving.

It was all done in good fun, so I hope I fooled a few of you and that it gave you something to smile about!

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE SOCIETY PRESIDENT LEAVING FREMANTLE

 

 

It is not official yet, but I was told last night that shock waves are going through the Fremantle Society with their president John Downson indicating that he will soon be relocating permanently to England.

Dowson is said to be deeply frustrated that the Society has been unable to make an impact on Fremantle planning matters and bad architecture, and he is outraged about what he calls the incompetent Fremantle Council, planning department and State’s JDAP and SAT, which approve in Dowson’s opinion inappropriate buildings in our city.

The Fremantle Society committee is very worried that they might not be able to find anyone to replace John Dowson because it has been very difficult over the past years to find members willing to put their hat in the ring and take on an official function, hence FS has now members on committee who don’t live anywhere near Fremantle.

Already during the last two years Dowson has ran FS partly from London, where he bought an apartment in a new upmarket subway station development, and from cruise ships on which he lectures about Fremantle’s history.

I see John Dowson’s departure from Fremantle as a good opportunity for the Fremantle Society to consider how to make the group relevant again and less political and council-bashing. It needs to go with the times and rejuvenate and redevelop itself and not be anti change and anti development. I hope the group won’t falter and collapse in a heap because of the departure of its powerful president.

If the Brits can cope with Brexit and Dowson is another thing, but good luck to John Dowson, who has been very controversial but with his heart in the right place for Freo.

Roel Loopers

 

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FREO’S YELLOW ART REMOVAL A DELICATE ACT

 

high 5

 

I was a wee bit skeptical about the claims by Fremantle Society president John Dowson that the City of Fremantle did not want to take back to its original tuck pointing the building on the corner of High and Cliff streets that is at the centre point of the yellow art removal controversy, and Dowson’s assertion that tuck pointing the building would cost about the same as repainting the entire facade.

City of Fremantle Director of Infrastructure and Project Delivery Graham Tattersall says that many buildings in High Street have condition problems; for some, the multiple coats of paint over the years have taken its toll and in some instances this has also damaged the sub-strata.

Director Tattersall told me that in reality the cost of repairing and returning the building to its original tuck pointed style would be considerably more costly than that of the planned works related to the foil removal.

Tattersall said “The City is wholly supportive of owners electing to take this opportunity to contribute for further works to restore or further improve their buildings (where requested, we agree to contribute the value of the yellow foil works towards the cost of an owners revised scope) and would not decline requests of this nature.”

“A number of property owners have taken the opportunity to engage the City’s contractor to carry out additional work on their properties at their own expense, which has greatly improved the appearance of the street, but as these are privately owned buildings it’s up to the property owner to make that choice.”

I think it is important to clarify this and also point out that building owner, former Freo Mayor Peter Tagliaferri, has taken out a writ against the City for $ 50,000 and that this legal action is continuing.

I have been watching how very time-consuming it has been to remove the paint of the brick building in Pakenham Street that will became the home of the Fremantle Republic gin distillery and micro brewery, and hence wondered if the claims by the Fremantle Society that the cost of tuck pointing and painting were similar could be correct. The Freo City director says they are not.

Roel Loopers

WHY WILL FREO CITY NOT BRING BACK THE OLD FACADE?

 

yellow art

 

I am surprised to hear that the City of Fremantle did not want to entertain the idea of stripping back the entire paint of the building, owned by former Mayor Peter Tagliaferri, on the corner of Cliff and High streets to its original tuck pointing, as part of the removal of the yellow artwork.

Fremantle Society President John Dowson sent a comment to Freo’s View that FS had suggested to the former Mayor to do that and not repaint the facade, but that the City had rejected the idea. If that is a fact that is disappointing because architect Michael Patroni, the owner of 10 High Street diagonally opposite Tagliaferri’s building, will take that building back to its original tuck pointing.

The owners of the Fremantle Republic gin distillery, micro brewery and tavern in Pakenham Street received a State heritage grant to take the facade of that building back to its original tuck pointing, so I would have thought the City of Fremantle would have embraced the idea of the Fremantle Society and do the same with the Tagliaferri building.

The Society president claims they did get a quote for the tuck pointing work that was approximately the same as repainting the building, so cost don’t appear to be a factor.

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE GENERAL ELECTORS MEETING TONIGHT!

 

The Annual General Electors Meeting of the City of Fremantle is on this evening at the Townhall from 6pm, so come along if you have any issues with the Elected Members or administration, or if you just want to thank them for doing a difficult job pretty well.

Residents and property owners of Fremantle can put motions forward and vote on them so make sure to have an ID on you.

On that note, Fremantle President John Dowson has emailed the members of the group more fake news. This time under the headline Are Your Highly Paid Councillors Doing Their Job?

Dowson writes “Are you getting value from your councillor? Besides getting $500 a week for attending meetings etc, councillors pay themselves to run those meetings, from a little pot of honey worth $60,000 a year.”

But Dowson’s assertions are wrong! I double checked with the City of Fremantle Director of City Business Glen Dougal and he tells me that the Mayor receives $ 88.000 annually plus $ 47.000 meeting allowance and Councillors get just over $ 30,000 a year plus approximately $ 3,000 for IT and communication allowance.

The payment Councillors receive is for much more than just attending Council meetings. They work very hard and are out and about all the time and meeting members of the community. It is a thankless task that does not get paid anywhere well enough in my opinion. And of course Councillors don’t pay themselves. That is done by the administration as it would be highly inappropriate for Elected Members to make payments.

I’ll see you at the AGEM this eve!

Roel Loopers

KINGS SQUARE CIVIC CENTRE A GOOD COMPROMISE

 

Kings Square and Maritime Museum

 

 

I managed to get my hands on the 2006 Urban Design Centre report about Kings Square development. I wanted to read it myself because it is often mentioned by the Fremantle Society in their opposition to the new Civic Centre.

I did find it interesting that the preferred option of the UDC report is the creation of a new public open space, but it includes substantial increase in height and density around the square. The UDC also saw potential in building a new administration building in the triangular space where the new civic centre will actually be built this year.

The UDC report starts by saying that Kings Square lost its significance as the civic heart of the city and its sense of place in the Fremantle community.

I have copied and pasted parts of the UDC report below. The bold lettering is mine to highlight some of the considerations and recommendations I believe do stand out:

“Nevertheless, the triangular development block adjacent to the original Town Hall offers interesting possibilities for a “green” replacement of the existing City Administration Building.”

“Despite the interesting architectural opportunities of the triangle concept, the charrette team kept returning to the idea of a true urban square – of appropriate size and dignity to anchor the heart of Fremantle.”

“To succeed as an urban square, however, the space needs stronger definition and a greater concentration of activity in the immediate vicinity. The team therefore recommends the City promote comprehensive redevelopment of the four surrounding sides of the square, at maximum achievable density, with a frontage of at least three stories and higher buildings set back from the street edge where possible. To increase the level of day and night activity in the area, active retail and entertainment uses should be required at ground level around the square, with as much housing as possible introduced in upper levels, on infill and redevelopment sites on Paddy Troy Mall, and on Henderson and Queen Streets, with the old Courts complex converted to an enclave of interesting loft apartments or townhouses.”

“The team, however, recognizes the financial consequences of surrendering the commercial potential of the Queensgate site to non-revenue producing public offices. Should it prove infeasible, a possible fall-back position is maximizing the potential of the Queensgate block with comprehensive redevelopment, together with replacement of the City Administration Building on its current site, in the triangular configuration discussed above.”

The UDC reports also recommends to light the entire square, which is a great idea, an allee of trees along Newman Court, which is also a good idea, a projection wall and an interactive water feature.

I do find it interesting that while the Fremantle Society, in its criticism of the Kings Square Redevelopment project and the new civic centre, constantly refers to the preferred option of a public open space in the UDC report, it fails to mention that the public open space option would come with a significant increase in density and heights all around Kings Square at William Street, Queen Street, Adelaide Street and Newman Court, and I doubt that is a preferred option for the group.

I like it when people are passionate about Fremantle issues, but I do not like the scare-mongering, conspiracy and misleading information that is put out to the community on social media and letters in the newspapers, etc.

Fremantle Society president John Dowson claims Sirona Capital sold our Spicer site, when the fact is that Sirona on-sold their property after settlement and payment to the City of Fremantle. If it had been the City’s property they sold-on Sirona would have engaged in fraudulent conduct. Sirona applied for and received Fremantle Council approval to on-sell the property to Andrew-Twiggy- Forrest.

Dowson also asks in an email to FS members, titled Mystery of the Missing Millions, how much money Sirona made out of the sale of the property to Forrest Family Investment, but Sirona only received a “modest fee” for the sale, according to Sirona Capital.

Then the Society president claims that Sirona has ‘flicked over’ the management of the new civic centre to another company and gets money for doing nothing, but Glen Dougall, Director of City Business at Freo City is adamant that the civic centre “is absolutely project managed by Sirona.”

On Tuesday February 12 the Audit and Risk Management Committee of Fremantle Council comes together, but disappointingly item ARMC1902-5-Emerging Risks Report-Kings Square Project Financial Summary is a confidential item the public can’t observe. I don’t like that! When something is as controversial in the community as the Kings Square Redevelopment is, transparency is the only way forward to gain lost trust. To hide behind commercial confidentiality for not debating the agenda item publicly will only result in more conspiracy nonsense and that is damaging the reputation of Fremantle and its Council.

Roel Loopers

this is the link to the Kings Square business plan: https://www.fremantle.wa.gov.au/sites/default/files/Kings%20Square%20cultural%20precinct%20redevelopment%20business%20plan.pdf

FREMANTLE WELCOMES QUEEN ELIZABETH PASSENGERS

 

QE 1

QE 2

 

The Queen Elizabeth cruise liner arrived in Fremantle at 6am this morning bringing over 2,000 passengers to our city. Many of them however hopped on a bus to the Pinnacles or Swan Valley, so it was relatively quiet in Fremantle and at the Roundhouse which I opened up an hour and a half earlier at 9am.

The City of Frematle had 23 Visitor Centre ambassadors at the Passenger Terminal on Victoria Quay to greet the arriving passengers and also had roving teams throughout the inner city. There was also a shuttle bus every 15 minutes between Kings Square and the Passenger Terminal and that will continue till 9pm this evening.

Quite a few visitors to the Roundhouse remarked on the very good historic lecture they had received about Fremantle on board the ship by Fremantle Society President John Dowson, so good on him!

The Queen Elizabeth is due to depart at 10pm this eve on her way to Busselton, Adelaide and Melbourne. Some people told me they will return to Perth from there on the Indian Pacific train.

Roel Loopers

 

SOS-FREMANTLE SOCIETY DROWNING IN NONSENSE

 

fs

 

One has to wonder what is going on at the Fremantle Society when one reads today’s tabloid-style advertisement in the Fremantle Herald.

SOS-Save Our Square it yells, insinuating that if the new Civic Centre is built by the City of Fremantle Kings Square will be lost, which is utter nonsense.

Kings Square has been two triangles, separated by the High Street road reserve, for decades, so what is all the Fremantle Society grand-standing about?

The northern triangle is the property of the St John’s church and the southern triangle belongs to the City. That will remain so.

Do the members of FS really expect that Fremantle Council will change the decision they made years ago, when they agreed on the Kings Square Redevelopment Project with Sirona Capital? Surely FS knows the horse has bolted and the start of the construction of the new Civic Centre is only a month or two away.

The Society calls for the square to be reinstated, so they want that big empty space that was created by the demolition of the former Civic Centre just to remain that? And they are happy for the City to have wasted many thousands of dollars on architects and consultants, which would have to start all over again if we were to build a civic centre elsewhere in Fremantle?

How on the ball about Fremantle issues is the Frematle Society when one of their committee members lives in Nannup, another one travels the world, and its president also spent at least a third of last year overseas? Not much up to date local knowledge at FS committee meetings one might suggest.

The Kings Square Redevelopment Project is good for Fremantle, and so are the many other developments in our city. It is time for the Fremantle Society to start accepting that the world changes constantly and Freo will do the same. That is a good thing!

Roel Loopers

SILLY CLAIM THAT BARNETT WOULD PUT FREMANTLE IN ADMINISTRATION

 

Fremantle Society president John Dowson likes to make outrageous claims, as long as they are negative about Fremantle Council, so this alleged statement by former WA Premier Colin Barnett surely must be taken with a grain of salt.

In his latest email message to FS members JD claims that: “Recent controversial decisions of Fremantle Council, particularly relating to Australia Day, and being told that the council still refuses to fly the Australian flag from the Town Hall long after spending $3 million to fix it up, led the former Premier to tell the Fremantle Society this week that : “If I was still Premier, I would put Fremantle Council into Administration.”

So are we really to believe that a state government would put a local government, which has been pro-active in encouraging extensive development and urban infill, into administration just because they don’t fly the Australian flag and don’t celebrate Australia Day on January 26? I doubt that very much!

Dowson also suggested in a recent email to FS members that Fremantle’s new destination marketing should be about telling stories, such as that Prince Phillip was in Fremantle Port for one day during WW II. Yep, that would get thousands of Chinese, Indonesian and Malaysian tourists rushing to Fremantle for sure. OMG!

And have the FS members noticed that their president talks about himself like the Queen? The Fremantle Society met the former premier, the Fremantle Society met David Attenborough, etc. when it was only JD meeting these people?

The AGM of the society was held last night and I fear we’ll be getting another year of unbalanced narrow-minded negativity and anti-change, anti-development and anti-progress messages from its president.

Roel Loopers

 

THE SOCIETY ALWAYS KNOWS BETTER

 

In his latest communication with its members Fremantle Society president John Dowson laments the vitriolic and nasty comments on social media platform Fremantle Massive and blames Fremantle’s leadership for the divided Fremantle community.

JD, who has returned to Fremantle after spending most of the year in the UK, then continues with his customary attack on our Council, claiming that the vision for the town centre is all wrong, presumably because Freo Council encourages medium-rise buildings.

JD writes that a symbol of Freo Council getting it all wrong is that they did not fly the Australian flag on Queen’s birthday. I am more inclined to believe that the many building developments around Fremantle are a symbol of Freo’s prosperous future, but hey, why be positive about progress when you can have a whinge about a flag not being flown.

Of course the issue of the removal of the old Moreton Bay fig trees from Kings Square also deserves another attack on Mayor Brad Pettitt, who according to JD single-handedly relocated the Christmas tree from the Esplanade to Kings Square. A very silly accusation to make for someone who was a Councillor for four years and who knows how the council process works.

No matter what the issues are JD’s experts are always better than the ones the City of Fremantle engages, be that architecture, city planning, or trees, so the president received the opinion that the fig trees could have lived many years longer at Kings Square, contrary to the advise CoF received from expert eastern states arborists, who flew over, injected the soil, monitored the trees for a long period, and who decided the trees would become a public hazard if left there. The City even had a community consultation process period about the removal, so it was all pretty transparent.

The only positive in JD’s email to the FS members is that the Guildford Society has offered nine-year-old Moreton Bay fig trees to the City of Fremantle, according to the president.

We know that CoF officers are sourcing to replace the so-called Christmas tree, next to the new playground, with another mature Moreton Bay fig tree. One issue is how to get a mature tree through the streets, and the officer in charge told me on Wednesday that they are already looking at the possibility of having to use a helicopter to do that.

The sun is shining, summer is on the way, John Dowson, and the glass is half full. Fremantle has a great future ahead, and new development won’t destroy our beautiful city, just change and modernise parts of it. Inspire your Fremantle Society members with creative new and positive ideas for our city, not just the same old vitriolic rants and attacks on the Mayor, which are becoming tedious and irrelevant.

Roel Loopers

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