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January 27, 2022

Men’s Shed supporters to march on Black Rocks

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Vandalism and graffiti such as this is not uncommon at Black Rocks Sports Field. Would siting a Men's Shed there reduce it? Photo contributed
Vandalism and graffiti such as this is not uncommon at Black Rocks Sports Field. Men’s Shed users say they would become responsible for upkeeping facilities such as this. Photo contributed

Fed up with waiting for Tweed Shire Council to make a decision, members of the Pottsville & District Men’s Shed Association (P&DMS) and their allies are organising a Convoy of Support to its disputed site at Black Rocks Sports Field on Sunday, February 26.

Controversy has raged for years about the proposed site, which is located adjacent to a dwindling koala population.

Some nearby residents, who say it has become a site for vandalism and hooning, have been calling for the sports field to be closed and the site revegetated with koala feed trees.

The isolation of the site has also been seen as a factor, with several locals suggesting an alternative location on crown land in downtown Centennial Drive, Pottsville.

But P&DMS president Michael Ryan has disputed the availability of the Centennial Drive site, telling Echonetdaily last year, ‘The land in Centennial Drive is crown land. Crown Lands has not indicated that it is about to transfer this parcel of land to the council for community use.’

‘If Tweed council did get control over this site, wouldn’t council be obliged to advertise for expressions of interest from the community regarding its future use?

‘This process itself would take months of consultation and then developmental approval would be required,’ Mr Ryan said.

The group is currently meeting at a demountable classroom at Pottsville Public School but say this could be taken away at a moment’s notice if the school’s needs changed.

They argue that a five-year licence to place a demountable at Black Rocks would be a win-win, with the association’s members tasked with upkeeping the toilets and change rooms already on the site.

According to the association, the convoy is an opportunity for supportive members of the community to walk, ride and drive from the current temporary Men’s Shed site to the proposed site at Black Rocks Sportsfield.

‘The convoy has been organised as a way of harnessing the widespread community support for the embattled Black Rocks Men’s Shed,’ a flier promoting the event reads.

‘The continued delays by Tweed Shire Council to sign the relevant documentation granting the Men’s Shed a five-year licence at the site has caused undue stress and frustration among the normally easy going, friendly Pottsville community.

‘The community wants to show the Pottsville & District Men’s Shed members, Tweed Shire Council, and the region, how much they value the Men’s Shed and want it as part of their community,’ it concludes.

The convoy will leave from the site of the existing temporary Men’s Shed at Pottsville Public School at 9.30am and participants can walk (or from 10am drive) to the disputed site at Black Rocks Sports Field in Overall Drive.

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  1. The Black Rocks by the Sea Koala Plan of Management states: ‘Disease may be a major threat to the Pottsville population. Animals most at risk are those which occupy disturbed or isolated habitats which are subject to human-related disturbance.’ The Plan states that at various times this threat could impact koalas in the Black Rocks by the Sea locality.

    The rate of disease-related death of Black Rocks koalas has been evidenced as 3 times what will accelerate decline to extinction. The disturbance created by the planned convoy/rally entering the sports field site demonstrates total lack of understanding of the plight of the Black Rocks resident endangered koala population and the Threatened Species Conservation Society calls for it to be cancelled.

    The Black Rocks sports field is located 300m within and at the junction of 3 koala linkage corridors and is surrounded by core koala habitat and a significant koala activity site. It has 1.6km of edge effects along its perimeter where koalas are exposed and stressed out by sporting, recreational and illegal activities as well as regular Council maintenance using loud slashers and brushcutters underneath branches where koalas have been sighted.

    According to koala expert Dr Steve Phillips, there is strong likelihood of a significant impact on koalas if the men’s shed proceeds at Black Rocks. These endangered koalas do not need more stress and disturbance from loud industrial-like activities of a men’s shed only 20m from primary koala habitat. They need to be left alone so they can rest and recover to sustainable levels.

  2. Under the Memorandum of Understanding for men sheds, written applications to Crown Lands must be made to secure a site, which the Pottsville and District Men’s Shed have never done. Crown Lands wrote to Geoff Provest on 15/9/2016 inviting P&DMS to submit a written application for Lot 3 Centennial Drive which, according to the contamination report for the Pottsville Pre-school extensions, does not pose any unacceptable risks to human health. The purpose of this MOU is to make it easy and expedient for men sheds to secure a site.

    Considering Lot 3 was P&DMS and Council’s preferred site in 2014, one would think they would jump at the chance to secure it now that the Pottsville Pre-school extensions have been finalised. Why would they possibly want to go to an isolated lonely remote location when a centrally-located socially inclusive site may soon be available for consideration.

    On 11/12/2014 the Barry Sheppard sports field was identified by Council as a suitable permanent site with the same approval pathway as at Black Rocks. It is more centrally located within the coastal strip and P&DMS membership catchment and is about the same distance north of Pottsville that Black Rocks is to the south.

    According to the 16/2/2017 Council meeting agenda, two other potential sites have been identified and a meeting with Council, the relevant State Minister and Geoff Provest is soon to be held to discuss these sites. We are also waiting for Geoff Provest to provide a a report on the potential and availability of Crown Lands sites.

    P&DMS have been at the Pottsville Primary School for 2 years and last year the Principal stated that they were welcome to stay indefinitely.

    It is therefore a misrepresentation of the facts to lead people to believe that Black Rocks is the only available site and that Council does not support a men’s shed. They are doing everything in their power to find a win-win solution for men shedders, the community and koalas.


    Considering that it is still koala breeding season, we call upon the organisers of a convoy of men’s shed at Black Rocks supporters scheduled for 26 February to refrain from entering the Black Rocks sports field site which is home to an endangered resident koala population. According to the Black Rocks by the Sea Koala Plan of Management, ‘Disease may be a major threat to the Pottsville koala population. Animals most at risk are those which occupy disturbed or isolated habitats which are subject to human related disturbance…Koalas occurring in more fragmented habitats are likely to be highly stressed…The abovementioned threatening process could impact on the koala population(s) in the Black Rocks by the Sea locality.

    Phone: 02 6676 0615
    Mobile: 0423 267 555
    Email: [email protected]

  4. Michael Ryan says:
    ‘The land in Centennial Drive is crown land. Crown Lands has not indicated that it is about to transfer this parcel of land to the council for community use.’
    ‘If Tweed council did get control over this site, wouldn’t council be obliged to advertise for expressions of interest from the community regarding its future use?

    This is bogus. Crown Lands does not have to transfer this land to council for community use at all.

    The Australian Mens Shed Association (AMSA) has a document titled Crown Lands Act, the Memorandum of Association (MOU) with AMSA and NSW Mens Sheds. In it they say:

    ‘The State Government Department responsible for Crown reserves is the Dept of Primary Industries. DPI initiating the MoU with AMSA was to commence enforcement with Trustees who, according to DPI, may have a perception that they actually ‘own’ the land.

    Sheds need to make a request for a User Licence as mentioned in the AMSA/DPI MoU that will give them long term tenure.

    The AMSA recommended course of action is:-

    1. Identify some potential sites in the area (as referred to above)
    2. Approach their local DPI as to whether it is actually Crown reserve (Land)
    3. Discuss options with their local State Member who should assist in the process
    4. Ensure that reference is made to the AMSA/DPI MoU
    5. Compose a Business Case as per the AMSA/DPI MoU and submit with the local DPI

    So clearly Michael Ryan only needs to follow the AMSA guideline and apply for Lot 3.

  5. In December 2015 Council approved the PDMS D15/0160, on a temporary five-year lease. As part of Council’s DA assessment process Council resolved to continue looking for permanent locations (21/08/2014). These are two separate issues.

    First – the outstanding execution of the approval documentation of the temporary licence at Black Rocks Sports Field. All that is needed is a signature. Specifically, the Mayor’s.

    Second – the continued search for a permanent location for when the five-year lease expires.

    What is getting lost within the Koala argument being touted by the Mayor and Threatened Species Conservation Society, is that due process has been done. The Men’s Shed have complied with all 104 Council requirements. Rigorous ecological and planning assessments have been undertaken by Councils environmental scientists, planners and ecologists. The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage also contributed. An independent assessment by GHD Australia also recommended approval.

    Yes, in five years PDMS will need a permanent location. Yes Council has committed to assisting with that process.

    Conveniently absent from the ‘alternate fact’ that PDMS refuse to consider alternate locations is the simple distinguishing between temporary and permanent locations. PDMS have DA approval in a temporary location at Black Rocks Sports Field. There is five years until this lease expires, during which time PDMS will work with Council on suitable permanent location options. To consider an alternate TEMPORARY site/s is fundamentally flawed based on financial prudency alone.

    As of 15/09/16 Tweed Shire Council had spent $51,000 on the Black Rocks DA.

    Per Council meeting agenda papers of 15/09/16 (page 49) the Council resolutions of 17/07/14, 21/08/14 and 16/10/14, and the December 2015 DA approval, could entitle the Men’s Shed to request financial reimbursement for costs already incurred if required to move to another location. Those same Council papers outline that it is likely approvals for the Men’s Shed to move to another location would be similar or greater. Is that good governance taxpayers?

    Another ‘alternate fact’ is that Lot 3, Pottsville is a suitable alternate location. Again, Council meeting papers (15/09/2016) provide insight into the unsuitability of this option. “The proposed alternative location on Lot 3 DP1062338 Centennial Drive at Pottsville does not offer any ecological advantage”, as:
    • The EXACT suite of threatened species exists at both locations;
    • Relocating to Men’s Shed to Lot 3 MAY result in clearing vegetation. BRSF will not;
    • Lot 3 vegetation includes areas mapped as preferred Koala habitat under the Tweed Coast Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management. The intended position of the Shed at BRSF is 20m from any vegetation and WILL NOT impact vegetation;

    These are publicly available facts that dispute the misleading ‘alternate facts’ being spewed forth


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