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ATP Parking saga extends

Alexandria residents are infuriated by another episode in the ATP parking saga which has left them with no imminent resolution writes Nicholas Jordan in City News of 24 November 2011

Alexandria residents are infuriated by another episode in the ATP parking saga which has left them with no imminent resolution.

The City of Sydney has recently released a survey on the possibility of a resident parking scheme in the problem area but has ruled out introducing any interim policies before the study is completed and reviewed.

The Australian Technology Park (ATP) only provides expensive parking for its employees and residents in Alexandria have been fighting for parking spots with ATP’s 2500 employees since the completion of development over two years ago.

Member of Alexandria Residents Action Group (ARAG), Jim Patsouris said Council should be lobbying the Australian Technology Park to provider cheaper parking for its employees while the study is being conducted.

“The biggest contributor to what’s going on here is the ATP, they won’t accept any responsibility.”

The ATP car park costs over $300 to use per month and the ATP has so far refused to offer any discounts to its employees.

Mr Patsouris said he is frustrated because parking problems were identified in the initial development application and since then there have been no changes despite an ATP parking study last year and a further Council review of that study, which started last month.

“It’s been three years and we’re probably looking at another two years,” he said.

The City of Sydney declined to answer questions on how long the survey would take but insisted there will be no discussion on temporary solutions.

“The City awaits the result of community feedback and is not considering any interim policies,” a City of Sydney spokesperson said.

The survey, distributed earlier this month, asked residents about the possibility of introducing two-hour parking with permits given to residents.

Alexandria resident Joy Brookes said although she wants a residents parking scheme, it will be impossible for visitors to park around her house during work hours when the streets are clogged with the cars of ATP workers.

Mr Patsouris said: “We are still a residential area and we need people to come and visit us, friends, relatives, tradesmen.”

Although the Alexandria residents come into regular conflict with ATP workers, Ms Brookes said the ATP employees are suffering as well.

“It’s also tough for the people who are actually using our streets as a parking lot,” she said.

Earlier this year, an anonymous employee working at the site sent a letter to the ATP management, which said ATP employees and residents around the surrounding streets had been victims of corporate greed.

“If you were seriously concerned about the impact this site is having on our neighbours’ streets you would open and utilise the locked and empty 260-space car parks,” the letter said.

“Many of us are young women; many are onset TV crew working 12-hour days, starting and finishing in the dark; many carry equipment and armfuls of confidential materials to and from work. Public transport to a station in one of the most unsafe areas of Sydney is not an option.”

But public transport and cycling was exactly the answer offered by the Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP in a recent Council meeting after being questioned by Councillor Meredith Burgmann on the possibility of resident parking permits in problem areas.

Many residents in the area have complained the parking issues are just a sign of wider planning problems.

Mr Patsouris said the City of Sydney’s policy on public transport and cycling is overly ambitious.

“It’s a great intention but it’s probably not going to happen for 20 or 30 years. It’s a generational attitude shift that they are aiming.”

“I don’t think car ownership is the problem… developments get approved and constructed so little is paid to increasing or improving public transport,” he said.

Alexandria resident Yvonne Cowell said the transport problems of the area are only going to get worse with the nearby Ashmore development plans.

“Ashmore estate will increase the traffic, with not enough parking and garages planned for these developments… We may just become an extension of the city.”

Another nearby resident Pamela Ang said: “It is us, the poor rate-paying residents who are being put in this insufferable position because of these whacky, short-sighted policies. The future as it stands for us looks very bleak for our parking rights.”

Mr Patsouris said the Council is too large to deal with problems like suburban parking.

“It neglects the smaller more mundane things like this.”

“It’s pathetic planning… either fix these things and be honest with us or give us a new municipality,” he said.

Submissions on the Council’s parking survey are due tomorrow, pending an appeal by residents for an extension. The Council CEO and board conducted an on-site visit on Thursday November 24.