The East Esplanade grass area – informally known as the Office – will be fenced off from Friday for at least three weeks following repeated incidences of large crowds leaving rubbish, urinating in neighbouring properties and disregarding public health orders.
The area, which has alcohol permitted until 8pm as a special allowance for picknickers to enjoy a drink at lunch and sundown, has hit news headlines recently because of reports of large parties and unsavoury behaviour – including a public poo and numerous wees on local driveways and gardens.
An attempt to ban alcohol in the area – one of several over the years – was recently rejected by the majority of councillors who said they didn’t want to take away the pleasure of the majority because of the poor behaviour of the few. You can read a thorough write up about that Council vote here.
However, last weekend’s party surprised and disappointed even the most ardent Office supporters – including Manly Observer – who copped a bit of flack for airing their opinion on the crowds.
The closure is an alternative to a downright ban and will provide an opportunity for “maintenance” on the site, including repairing damaged grass areas. In fact, Council’s official line is that the site will close from Friday as part of its Turf Renovation Program.
The area does need to be returfed, fertilised, aerated and top dressed, but we have reliable proof the move is also a hopeful “circuit-breaker” to the recent behaviour at the reserve following a meeting with local Police Commander and others.
South Steyne turf renovation is also due to begin soon, with Dee Why programmed for November.
Returfing is done during the spring months as the weather warms, giving the turf the best opportunity to establish, Council explained in a release to media.
Manly Ward councillor and Deputy Mayor Candy Bingham, who has fought for years to keep the Office open for a sunset drink, said she was appalled by the recent behaviour and it was time to acknowledge what local neighbours have been dealing with.
“Let’s hope this break allows things to reset while supporting our local pubs and restaurants who have done it so tough over the past months,” Cr Bingham said.
Mayor Michael Regan said Council was taking advantage of the reopening of venues to begin the works at East Esplanade.
“East Esplanade has been highly impacted during COVID and the wear and tear is evident.
“With the local pubs and restaurants reopening this week we expect less demand for picnics in this area which gives us an opportunity to get in and get this work done now.
“We look forward to having the area reopened for people to enjoy ahead of summer.”
The area will be fenced for approximately three weeks and expected to reopen for use in early November, weather dependent.