BY GABRIELA SZYMANOWSKA
Reconstruction of a yacht club has led to debate about the safety of Wolseley Road in Point Piper that was not an issue before October 2017.
In October 2017, the Royal Prince Edward Yacht Club (RPEYC) lodged plans to renovate its 100-year old clubhouse which had not been upgraded since 1922. During that same time, Geoff Cousins, millionaire businessman and environmentalist, and other residents, put in a complaint that the road was too narrow and unsafe for the construction.
In light of those complaints, several “No Parking” signs were placed in front of the club, further decreasing already limited parking space on the 110-metre-long road which provides public access to a small public beach and the club.
The road where the parking restrictions were introduced varied in width between 7.02 to 7.20 metres and a number of inspections made by the Traffic Committee did find it was difficult to drive through the area when cars were parked on both sides.
Andrew Goldfinch, a current member of the RPEYC, explained that the road has no history of being unsafe and was approved last May by the Traffic Committee which stated that the road did not present an unreasonable safety risk.
“When you look at it, it’s a dead end, it’s a cul-de-sac that goes to nowhere other than the beach and the club. It’s not a through street, it’s a very steep road and people don’t go down it fast anyway and it’s not the narrowest street in Woollahra,” Mr. Goldfinch said. “There are a lot of other streets that are narrow. In May last year the Traffic Committee very clearly accepted a report from their staff saying it wasn’t a safety issue there.”
The primary reason for concern is that emergency vehicles can not access the road. The bench mark for emergency vehicles response time should be eight minutes or less, but it was stated by Mr. Cousins that residents regularly waited 10 to 15 minutes because of congestion of the street.
“Well, I certainly have not witnessed congestion. The only people accessing that end of the street would be beach goers, boat owners, club members and residents. Congestion has not been an issue that we’ve been aware of and as I said before, we’ve certainly have not been aware of at any time where emergency vehicle access has been hindered,” Commodore Gregory Mason of the RPEYC said.
As of the April 3 meeting, the committee concluded with the amount of support from residents directly affected and their own review that the “No Parking” signs should stay at their current location.
“We believe that nothing has essentially changed in the time that we have been there in terms of the actual road itself that would cause concern for Council to recommend the position of further parking restrictions which not only denies access, but also forces those people to park elsewhere along Wolseley road and other roads in the area and therefore further putting pressure on residents,” Mr. Mason said.
If the parking restrictions were to remain posted, this could prove to hurt the viability of the club whose financial situation to upgrade the clubhouse is dependent on donations from club members. The very members who use the parking spots to be able to access the club.
A full Council meeting will be held on Monday April 23 where Council will make the final decision about the parking restrictions.
When reached for comment, the Woollahra Council replied, “This matter will be discussed at a full Council meeting on 23 April.”