24 Hours to Get a Quality Cultural Centre

Tomorrow night, Wednesday 29 January, Fremantle Council will discuss the 828 sq m Tavern proposed for the new $45 million Administration Building in King’s Square. Last week, only two councillors voted against it: Cr Lang, Greens member for City ward, who faces reelection next year, and Cr Thompson.

As the Fremantle Society detailed last week, the deal is a shocking and inappropriate one.

The new administration building was touted as a “Cultural Centre”, and that is what we should get.

The community, yet again not consulted, is disengaged and unhappy, but unlikely to storm the barricades. It would be helpful if members turned up tomorrow night at the North Fremantle Community Centre at 6pm to voice their views, or at least write to councillors today. Councillor emails end in @fremantle.wa.gov.au and begin with the councillors first name and initial eg geoffg (Geoff Graham), jennifera (Jenny Archibald), hannahf (Hannah Fitzhardinge, sug (Su Groome), frankm (Frank Mofflin), Samw (Sam Wainwright), Brynj (Bryn Jones), adinl (Adin Lang),  andrews (Andrew Sullivan) and marijav (Marija Vujcic).

The Fremantle Society has been told that even the Church of England, who own half of King’s Square including a church 20 metres from the proposed tavern, have not been informed.

Below is what will be sent to all councillors (it might help you pose some questions to all of them at members@fremantle.wa.gov.au though individual emails are better):

Tavern Lease for new Administration Building

Please consider that ratepayers are paying $45 million for a new administration building they did not ask for, especially as it is destroying the only town square in Western Australia. It is opposed by two former Premiers, former Fremantle MP Troy, the Fremantle Society, and all urban design experts asked.

The new administration building was promised to be a civic building and a “Cultural Centre.”

Please therefore make sure we get a high quality “Cultural Centre” where a top class library with plenty of books (and not a preponderance of computers and coffee machines), sits alongside a revamped Local History Library. Fremantle’s Local History Library used to be the best in the State until council sacked half its full time staff and decided not to have a stand alone facility. The staff should be reinstated and the Local History Library should be a stand alone unit as before.

A “Cultural Centre” also needs area for exhibitions such as art displays (why is the council’s multi million dollar collection invisible?), meeting rooms, and information areas like a Tourist Information Centre.

A large tavern as proposed, which, even if it was run by a good operator, is a very bad idea for a civic building, especially if there is a long rent free period and a long 10 plus 10 year lease. Unsightly access for services, unloading kegs, storage of empty kegs and oil drums, grease traps, and bin areas alone will turn prime real estate into an ugly interface.

In Melbourne for the tennis, I stayed at a famous hotel because it looked attractive from the outside. However, the operators have given over most of the entrance area to a large tavern, which is so noisy and invasive, it ruined the whole purpose of going there to stay. A civic building is not the right place for a tavern. Fremantle is now under siege from endless new alcohol venues and that monoculture should not be supported by council, especially as many people do not drink alcohol, and want a civic experience in their new building that speaks of dignity, calm, culture, and peace.

There is no need to have everything finished and installed in a new civic building, just because there is a mayoral election next year. If 130 operators turned this idea down, there are very good reasons.

Besides not discussing this with the community, your council has not even discussed this with the Church of England, who own half of King’s Square, and are not happy to hear of a tavern 20 metres from their church.

Finally, can you please indicate why the Expression of Interest for this Tavern is not being readvertised when the extraordinary incentives being offered such as $500,000 fit out paid for by ratepayers and free rent for 3 years, were not offered to all those who initially saw the EOI?

Please vote for a Cultural Centre and not a Tavern.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

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