ALFRED Cove Action Group spokesman David Maynier claims what he believes was a pre-existing relationship between Wave Park Group chairman Andrew Ross and a senior City of Melville officer may have assisted the $25 million proposal.
Speaking in front of more than 500 people at a special electors meeting called to discuss alternative options for the site on Wednesday night, Mr Maynier alleged Mr Ross was close friends with City of Melville manager of health and leisure services Todd Cahoon, a claim Mr Ross rejects.
Mr Cahoon played no part in the City’s consideration of the Wave Park Group proposal.
Melville council adopted a lawn bowls strategy on June 21 last year that involved moving the Melville Bowling Club from its current site.
Nine days later the City of Melville received an unsolicited bid from Wave Park Group for that location.
The officer recommendations contained in the lawn bowls strategy, over which Mr Cahoon had responsibility, were made public online by the City at least a month prior to Wave Park Group lodging its proposal.
In accordance with the Local Government Act, the unsolicited bid meant the City never put the site out to tender – one of the major flaws of the proposed surf facility according to Mr Maynier.
“All of this really needs to be cleared up before we sign away ratepayers land for the next 30 years,” he said.
Mr Ross, who was not at the electors meeting after telling supporters to boycott the evening, emphatically denied receiving any inside information from Mr Cahoon, who he said was the friend of a friend.
“I’ve spent most of my life in the City of Melville and know a lot of people that live and work here,” he said.
“We have been investigating sites in Melville for two or three years and have been keeping a close eye on relevant developments.
“In 2014 we made a presentation to Melville council contemplating the idea of putting one of our old rectangular-shaped lagoons at Tompkins Park.
“We weren’t able to do so because of the impact on playing fields but we’ve been monitoring that site ever since.”
Mr Ross said he was extremely disappointed by the allegations raised by Mr Maynier at the electors meeting.
Earlier in the night, the electors meeting heard a string of presentations highlighting concerns with the City’s handling of the Wave Park Group proposal.
The City was accused of rushing into negotiations with the first bidder for the site, not carrying out appropriate due diligence on the proponent and ignoring community concerns about loss of prime public open space on the Swan River foreshore.
In a fiery address, former Federal MP George Gear, who now lives in Alfred Cove, branded Melville council “arrogant” eliciting a big round of applause from the crowd.
“This is a council that doesn’t listen to ratepayers, gives minimal information to affected residents and gives non-answers to questions,” he said.
At the conclusion of the meeting, a special electors’ motion calling on the City to immediately suspend negotiations and investigate alternative proposals was carried unanimously.
The City of Melville declined to comment.