Prior to reporting on this ‘debate’ we wish to highlight these points:

  • For some councillors the conservatory has been allowed to become ‘dilapidated’. For others it has been ‘preserved’ and ‘fixed up’.
  • Only one councillor mentioned long term consequences such as ‘water, electricity, sewerage’ if this becomes a cafe. What has not been mentioned is ACCESS to serve a cafe – ie will we have loading bays? will more parkland be ripped up for roads and carparks?
  • If a cafe, no councillor mentioned outfitting costs and who will pay for this – council or lessee. For example at GESAC $300,000+ was spent on outfitting the cafe!
  • Lipshutz’s inconsistency continues – in 2011 he called the conservatory ‘an icon’!!!!!!!!

LIPSHUTZ: Read out the officer recommendations. Stated that the conservatory issue is ‘vexed’ and has come up several times. Previous survey was ‘inconclusive’, Said that ‘many people’ including himself have got ‘concepts’ about what should happen including a ‘cafe/tea rooms or other uses’. ‘There’s no suggestion’ that the place would be ‘demolished’. The motion ‘ensures’ that ‘concepts are brought before the community’ and that people can then come to council after ‘consultation’ and then council would decide. Went on to say that there are plenty of ways that this ‘can be used’ such as cafe or simply ‘flowers and gardens’. The conservatory is ‘much loved’ but also ‘maligned’ building and people want to make sure that it’s used properly and that the motion will make this happen. Didn’t want to see ‘a patch up job’ on the place. Important that the ‘community come in and tell us what they want’. Stated that there are ‘beautiful’ areas to the east, then the lake, and the western side which is ‘not used at all’. Wants to see that part ‘developed’ so it ‘can be used for recreation’.

DELAHUNTY: important that community has input to get this ‘right’ but the question is what’s ‘right’. It’s always been her ‘ethos’ that the role of a councillor is to ‘represent’ and there are strong views about this issue and community groups such as Friends of Caulfield Park ‘can inform us’ and ‘own this process’ as to what it will look like down the track and not ‘spend the community’s money’ on what mightn’t ‘be the end result’. Said that previous consultation wasn’t about concepts and ‘possibly didn’t ask the right questions’ nor ‘broad enough’. Thus she thought that ‘we have to take the lead’ and tell people ‘these are the options’ and ‘hoped’ that community groups ‘take hold of this’. They should ‘inform us’ and ‘help us deliver’ the outcomes. Previous survey ‘only heard from 312 people’ and that’s ‘possibly not enough’ and wanted a ‘more ringing endorsement’ about what to do. ‘Will cop’ that this (ie consultation) has been ‘done before’ but ‘let this be the last time’.

PILLING: said that the motion was a ‘mish-mash’, not clear and ‘confusing’. Said that the last resolution was to fix up the conservatory and ‘protect’ it and that this motion just ‘delays that’ . Accepted the ‘good will’ of councillors but said that it should be fixed up and then consult. ‘Opening it up to commercialisation’ is bringing up a ‘can of worms’. Said the motion ‘was confusing everyone’ and that it’s a ‘mish-mash’. Said he was in favour of community groups coming in, but this motion doesn’t ‘seek to do’ that. Also, there’s ‘a precedent here about commercialising our parks’ and mentioned surrounding, existing cafes and competition and ‘that’s not our role’.

MAGEE: admitted that he’d been in favour of a cafe for many years and went past that morning and asking himself ‘how can this go forward’. Then he realised that over the last 4 years he’d been ‘fighting’ the MRC for ‘overcapitalising and commercialising’ crown land. So he felt like a ‘real hypocrite’ because favouring a cafe in the park was ‘exactly what I was criticising others for’. Therefore he ‘can’t support commercial activities on crown land’. Read out the 2011 motion about ‘full restoration’ of the conservatory and then said ‘here we are two years later’ debating about consultation. Said that what they’re trying to do is ‘give back’ to the community what they were given in the seventies. Wanted a ‘full restoration’ and then going back to the people. He ‘liked’ the idea of plants being there. ‘we have to restore it to its former glory’ and remember why it ‘was put there in the first place’…..’I won’t be supporting anything that goes as far as commercialising any land’ in parks.

LOBO: thought about this for a long time and it involves an ‘icon’ in the park. Said he’d visited last week and received ‘half a dozen’ phone calls from people asking ‘not to dilly dally this process’ any longer because it’s already been ‘considered’ on 3 previous occasions – 2006, 2010 and 2011. Said that if they’d already considered the issues when they sent out the survey and only got 312 responses then ‘maybe at the time they did not realise the importance of this place’ . Handing this over to ‘money making’ businesses is akin to the MRC using ‘crown land to make money’ . Council should go ahead with ‘full restoration’. ‘What we are achieving by sending another costly survey is beyond my reasoning’. If the results are similar to previous surveys then it’s ’embarrassing’ and a ‘futile exercise’.  Cited Einstein about doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is a ‘sign of insanity’. When the city is crying out for open space building something on the open space is the opposite. Said that it looks like council is heading down the track of ‘encouraging cafes, two dollar shops and massage parlours’. Wanted to ‘get on with the job or restoring this icon’.

SOUNNESS: stated that this building came from Rippon Lea where they had lovely gardens, much open space, high ceilings. This conservatory in comparison to that is ‘small and squalid’. Accepted that ‘it’s got a lot of history’ but was ‘rejected from Rippon Lea’. The question then becomes what’s the best use? Admitted that ‘I do not know’. Said that this is like grit in the eye in that ‘it’s a small matter for Glen Eira’ – ‘it’s not a GESAC’; it’s a ‘small thing’ but it’s ‘hung around and irritated’ a lot of people. It’s never going to become the best conservatory and win awards. If it’s a teahouse then you’ve got to think about power lines, sewerage, and water and whether ‘this is the best use for our park’. Went on to say it’s a ‘lot of money to spend on something’ if the returns are small either way.

OKOTEL: said that since the last consultation was in 2006 there had been a ‘sufficient gap’ for this now to be ‘relooked at’. Basically repeated the officer’s report on numbers for and against from the 2006 survey.  Commented that the petition that also ‘went out’ doesn’t say if those people who signed also filled out the survey so there could have been duplication and she didn’t think that since this was ‘seven years ago we don’t have those records anymore’. Said that in 2006 there was support for a cafe so community recognised that there was need for development and that currently and ‘unfortunately’ the conservatory is ‘falling further and further into dilapidation’. Thought it was important that councillors take into view the community’s wishes and don’t just follow their own perceptions. That they need to ‘take direction from the community’. Hoped that this was true on ‘every issue’ and ‘take direction from consultation we have with the community’. “Consultation is a fundamental job for council to undertake’.

ESAKOFF: ‘looked forward’ to community views even though different comnmunity. Said that the motion ‘opened it up to more opportunity’ and ‘not just a cafe’ but ‘other uses as well’. Responded to Lobo’s comment about 2 dollar shops saying that they wouldn’t survive without community support.

HYAMS: didn’t ‘think’ that this was commercialisation of parks since tea rooms would add to the park by getting people to come into the parks as in other parts of the world. Objective isn’t to ‘work for the benefit of the operator’ but to ‘bring further life to the area’.  Said that in 2006 ‘the majority was in favour’ of a cafe. And that with the petition you ‘can’t put the petition on the same level’ as ‘a neutral community survey’.  ‘When you put out a neutral question’ via the consultation survey then ‘you get back the response of the community’ which isn’t true for a petition which also doesn’t capture all those people who refused to sign a petition. ‘so all you get is one side of the argument’. Said that the ‘equivalent’ would be like getting the survey and then discarding all those ‘that say they don’t want a cafe’. Said in 2006 council decided to ‘push ahead’ with tendering although ‘for some reason that didn’t proceed’ and in 2010 officers thought it should come ‘to new council’ and then a year later ‘council changed its mind’. So it’s not a question of coming back again and again on the issue until they get the tea room. Said that suggestions to ‘do the work and then consult’ doesn’t make sense because it ‘may well end up as a waste of money’ if people want a ‘tea room’ and they’ve ‘already put on a roof’ that’s appropriate for a ‘green house’.

LIPSHUTZ: compared Lobo’s and Sounness’ comments and ‘wondered whether we’re talking about the same building’ – ‘in this particular case’ he agrees with Sounness. ‘It’s not an icon. It is a small and squalid building’. But people are concerned about it and that’s why the motion is as it is.

Argued that the motion isn’t saying ‘commercialising the park’. It says that ‘we may’ if that’s ‘what the community want’. Motion is all about ‘seeking consultation’ about what people want. Also said that ‘we have protected’ the conservatory; ‘we have fixed it up’ and that ‘we’ve done the works’ and that the motion isn’t about ‘protecting’ but ‘deciding where we go from here’. It’s not a ‘mish-mash’ because all it’s saying is going to people and asking what they want. He’s not afraid to say that a cafe is something that he’s wanted for ‘some time’ and that ‘it’s an excellent idea’. ‘Our role’ is to ensure that parks are used to the fullest potential and it’s silly to ‘have open space that nobody uses’. If in the end it’s about flowers then that’s ‘wonderful’ – ‘it’s for the community to decide’. Not enough to think that ‘let’s build it and they will come’. They didn’t build GESAC and then ask the community what they wanted. ‘we came with a concept’ and then invited the community. ‘This is what this motion is all about’. ‘It is not an icon. It is a small and squalid building’. ‘Let’s get the community involved and end it once and for all’.