JOONDALUP councillors voted at last Tuesday's meeting to further investigate the possibility of constructing a fitness staircase at Whitfords Nodes Park in Hillarys.
The Harbour Rise Homeowners’ Association proposed a staircase that would be bigger and wider than Jacob’s Ladder at Kings Park and would link the grassed area to the lookout in the north-east, running above the vegetation.
But City officers recommended against, saying approvals could be costly and not assured.
External grant funding, if successful, would cover only some of the cost and there were potential adverse environmental effects.
It was estimated the project would cost $392,500.
Joe DeLucia, representing the Harbour Rise Homeowners’ Association, said they had received overwhelming support for the idea from schools and community and sporting groups.
‘This would be a fantastic opportunity for a passive recreational facility that could rival Jacob’s Ladder in Kings Park and attract users from all across the northern suburbs,’ he said.
‘We can help facilitate a substantial grant and members have indicated their offer of personal assistance to help revegetate any damage or disturbance to the bushland from construction activities.’
Cr Kerry Hollywood said while the stairway ‘sounded like a very good idea’ at first, the proposal was ‘fraught with problems’.
‘External funding may not be available and could also jeopardise the City from receiving funds for other proposed projects,’ she said.
‘This is a Bush Forever coastal reserve with native vegetation and it’s unlikely to gain support because it would cause damage to the protected reserve.
‘We just can’t spend this sort of money on a staircase to a lookout that will only hold a few persons at any one time.’
Cr Tom McLean agreed the advice given to the capital works committee had highlighted problems with construction and getting environmental approvals.
But Cr Mike Norman moved a foreshadowed motion to refer the item back to the chief executive to ‘examine alternative technologies, the likelihood of environmental approval and other potential funding options’.
‘I believe this project is a great suggestion and has wide community support, but beyond that it could potentially become a regional facility and even a tourist drawcard,’ Cr Norman said.
‘The City puts lots of money into active recreation but we have many in our community who enjoy passive recreation.
‘They’re not part of sporting clubs but they like to use stairways, paths, cycling tracks, so it’s not unreasonable for this City to put a bit of money into a major passive recreational facility, not just channel all our money into sporting facilities.’
He said similar structures were built in environmentally sensitive areas around Australia so it was worth further investigation, ‘rather than (the idea) being slapped down at this early stage’.
‘A serious grant application could not be submitted by the City until we have a detailed design and firm costings,’ he said.
He said he thought it would be ‘likely to be supported significantly by Lotterywest’.
Cr Geoff Amphlett disagreed.
‘They haven’t got the funding to do this sort of thing,’ he said.
Mayor Troy Pickard agreed the proposal faced ‘some significant hurdles’ but he wanted ‘clarity’ so councillors could make a fully informed decision.