The grassed area at East Esplanade remains fenced off despite Council saying it would be re-opened ‘early November’.
The popular reserve was closed on 12 October following a number of incidents of public disorder. Council made no mention of anti-social behaviour when it fenced the reserve off, saying the area was scheduled for turf maintenance.
“The works are part of Council’s annual turf renovation program and the area will be fenced for approximately three weeks, expected to reopen for use in early November, weather permitting,” Council said in a statement at the time.
With the deadline to reopen having passed, a senior Council source who spoke with the Northern Beaches Advocate on condition of anonymity said they expected the fences to remain in place until Monday, 06 December, the weekend after the Local Government election.
Northern Beaches Council was approached for comment, responding with a statement from CEO Ray Brownlee.
“The works at East Esplanade took a little longer than expected and we have allowed some additional time for the grass to take given this is a high traffic area. We are closely monitoring and expect to reopen the area in the coming weeks,” said Mr Brownlee.
The area has been re-turfed by Council and appears to be in generally good condition, with the grass growing long in some places, with occasional bare patches still visible.
Deputy Mayor Candy Bingham said the grassed areas were progressively being opened now and assertions about waiting until after the election were ‘nonsense’.
“The area near the toilets has already been opened up, that was done at the beginning of the week. Other sections will be opened progressively, so 06 December is just nonsense,” said Cr Bingham.
Despite claims from Council and Mayor Michael Regan that the closure was related to wear and tear, Cr Bingham confirmed in October that the closure of East Esplanade reserve was designed to act as a ‘circuit breaker’ for the anti-social behaviour that had been occurring.
NSW Police reports indicate that over the last two weekends, they have been called to at least two incidents of groups of people fighting at East Esplanade.
Cr Bingham reiterated that the issues of public disorder were not related specifically to East Esplanade and were instead symptoms of a broader social situation.
“When people are drinking alcohol in Manly, there’s issues. As things open up, there’s an increasing number of people drinking in other parks in the area. It’s not just about East Esplanade, it’s a social issue,” said Cr Bingham.
Images: Northern Beaches Advocate