Wave Park Group: No surf facility for Perth if Alfred Cove lease refused

MELVILLE councillors will decide whether to enter into a ground lease with Wave Park Group at a special closed-door meeting tomorrow evening.

Wave Park Group chairman Mr Ross said he would abandon plans for a Perth facility if the ground lease was refused.

“Having reviewed dozens of possible sites in Perth over a four-year period, we have concluded there are very few available opportunities to create this type of facility in Perth,” he said.

“If we are unable to proceed at Tompkins Park, we will unfortunately be suspending our efforts to bring a surf park to Perth and will focus instead on the projects and new ventures we have already under development in the eastern states.”

A decision on the divisive proposal comes amid reports the Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) has been approached to investigate potential links between City of Melville manager of health and lifestyle services Todd Cahoon and Mr Ross.

Mr Ross described Mr Cahoon as “the friend of a friend” and the City maintains Mr Cahoon played no part in its consideration of the $25 million surf park proposal, which arrived as an unsolicited bid on June 30 last year.

Mr Cahoon was the officer responsible for a City lawn bowls strategy that suggested moving the Melville Bowling Club from the proposed site of the wave park, part of a larger plan to consolidate lawn bowls facilities in response to dwindling pennant participation.

He also owned shares in Wave Park Group until September 2016.

Responding to the allegations on Sunday, Mr Ross said they “throw mud on the professional conduct of a City of Melville employee”.

“There is the potential for conflicts to arise from time-to-time for public officers with respect to their personal affairs; how organisations deal with those potential conflicts is what is important,” he said.

“Contrary to sensationalistic headlines, the City of Melville has confirmed that, having undertaken its own internal review, this matter has been dealt with appropriately and that there is no evidence of any wrong doing and that its review has been passed to the Public Sector Commission and the CCC for information.”

Mr Ross also said Wave Park Group would abandon plans for a Perth facility if the ground lease was refused.

The special council meeting to decide the fate of the surf facility is being held behind closed doors because of the commercially sensitive information contained within the proposed lease.

It follows a number of electors’ meetings called to discuss the wave park, the most recent of which on March 15 demanded Melville council suspend all negotiations in favour of considering alternative proposals for the site.

That motion was passed unanimously by the nearly 500 Melville residents and ratepayers that signed the attendance register.

In February, another motion asking Melville council to drop support for the wave park was carried by 385 votes to 130 in a postal ballot.

However, those results are contrasted by feedback received during the eight-week advertising period for the proposal, where more than 3000 of 3700 submissions were in support of the project; although 2300 of those came from people living outside Melville.

Opponents of the wave park have raised concerns about the environmental impacts, increased traffic on the already busy Canning Highway and loss of public open space and amenity.

They have also cast doubt over Wave Park Group’s business credentials, fearing the facility – which would net the Cit y of Melville $700,000 per year in lease fees – may result in a commercial failure that leaves the City of Melville with an expensive clean-up bill.

Mr Ross has consistently asked that the Wave Park Group proposal be allowed to follow due process, which does not call for detailed traffic or environmental reports until a ground lease has been granted and a formal development application lodged with the Department of Parks and Wildlife.

“If a conditional ground lease is granted on Thursday we will then face a further 12 months of approvals from eight State-based regulatory agencies before we know whether the project will be able to proceed,” he said.