'Threat to rare bush' at Umina oval
Rare bushland at Umina oval is under threat in draft plans for the Peninsula Recreation Precinct, according to the Ettymalong Creek Landcare Group.
Group representative Ms Sue Ellis said draft development plans did not provide adequately for the protection of an endangered ecological community around the oval or its recovery.
Ms Ellis said the bushland, Umina Coastal Sandplain Woodland, was listed under threatened species legislation.
"Listings such as this one are made to alert land managers and councils of the need to focus their resources on protecting and recovery of such communities.
"The draft development proposals for this site do not currently reflect an understanding of either the significance of the site as a whole to the potential recovery of the Endangered Ecological Community or its protection.
"Although the proposals provide for bush regeneration in some of the bushland area, the development proposal has a significant impact on the banksia woodland area near Umina School."
A bushland management plan should be created for the whole site, she said.
Ms Ellis said the draft plans included a two-and-a-half metre concrete pathway through the banksia woodland area adjacent to Umina Public School and a large restaurant and amenities block as well as the removal of large numbers of trees.
The Landcare Group has urged the council to relocate and radically reduce the size of the proposed restaurant/amenities block, to remove the pathway from the bushland area and to use the funds to upgrade existing facilities.
Ms Ellis said she was particularly concerned about the size and location of the proposed "kiosk", which was twice the length of the Umina Beach Surf Club.
"An additional 12 toilets as proposed would provide this precinct with a total of 44 public toilets as well as even more inside Umina Surf Club and the football club house.
"These funds could be spent more usefully on refurbishing the existing amenities blocks which are in poor repair."
Ms Ellis said council officers had confirmed at the recent stakeholders meeting that although a business plan for the recreation area did exist, no marketing survey or assessment had been carried out to determine the needs or viability of a large kiosk.
"Nor has any market analysis been undertaken of the potential impact on existing businesses, seasonal variations in demand, disposable income levels of residents and visitors to the area," Ms Ellis said.
"In response to this criticism, council has now advised that it is undertaking a feasibility study apparently to justify the proposal, rather than respond to community concerns to reduce its scale and impact.
"Ettymalong Creek Landcare Group has made strong submissions to council regarding these issues in the hope that it will seriously revise the draft plans and use the funds to enhance the passive and active recreational opportunities in this precinct rather than build large speculative commercial structures on valuable crown land."
However, Gosford mayor Cr Chris Holstein has defended council's plans to build a new kiosk and amenities facility as part of the Peninsula Recreation Precinct.
Cr Holstein said the new facility would cater for the number of people expected to make use of the area once it was completed next year.
"The area has been designed to cater for hundreds of people especially in busy holiday periods," Cr Holstein said.
"There is no point having a facility that doesn't cater for the needs of a growing population and one that will inevitably attract hundreds of visitors to the area.
"Council has a responsibility to provide the community with services and amenities they deserve and also those that provide reasonable amenities.
"There are also a number of measures in place to ensure the protection and conservation of endangered bushland in the area throughout the development process."
Peninsula Families Action Group president Ms Sarah Tolmie said she was pleased with the plans for the new precinct so far.
"I went to the community meeting and on the whole I felt pleased with the plans to date and think the council is doing a good job to canvas all opinions and cater to all the feedback from the many consultations," Ms Tolmie said.
"The desire from many sections of the community has been to have the cafe and toilet facilities.
"As for the size of the playground and the surrounding park space, I think the size of the cafe and toilet pavilion is reasonable and I am sure it would be more than adequately frequented by the local community and tourists alike.
"I know given the feedback the design team was going to go back and look at things again and I trust they are working with the best interests and intentions driving their decisions.
"I spent a day with council officers Kim Radford, Emma Head and Cr Vicki Scott doing a tour of about six playgrounds across the entire Gosford LGA that we as part of the Playground Strategy Committee have initiated and I can tell you the team is very skilled and dedicated and passionate about the parks and playgrounds and delivering for the community."