The following article was written by Jim Gainsford and originally published Wednesday March 9, 2022 by The St George & Sutherland Shire Leader. The following text has been captured using computer software and may not be 100% accurate. You can download a high resolution scan of the original publication HERE.
HURSTVILLE businesses have rallied in a last-ditch attempt to stop Georges River Council turning the Palm Court car park in Forest Road into green open space. About 30 business owners met with Georges River mayor Nick Katris on March 2 to express their opposition to the plan. The 31-space Palm Court car park is being converted into open space providing a children's play area with sculptural play element, timber bench seating, tree plantings and a turf area. There will be ten car spots provided around the new park and an extra 12 car spots in Treacy Street but businesses said this still leaves a shortfall of nine car spots. Work is due to start later this month. St George Business Chamber president, Allan Zreik said the plans need to be reconsidered as businesses recover post-pandemic. "The Palm Court car park is not only well used by shoppers but also by the public day and night," he said.
"The 31 spot car park is an essential piece of infrastructure that needs to remain in its current use." Chris Thomas, chief executive officer of the Thomas Hotel Group which owns the Meridian Hotel opposite the car park, also urged the council to change its plan. "We are not against green space, but just not in this place," Mr Thomas said. "I've got a five-year-old and a three-year-old child and my wife said there is no way she would bring the kids to play in this spot," he said. "If the council wants to encourage Hurstville's nighttime economy, putting a park there will actually have the opposite effect." Mayor Nick Katris and Councillors Colleen Symington and Ben Wang met with the business owners to hear their objections. "They told us they had serious concerns about the planned park, not only with the loss of parking but they don't think it is a good place to put a children's playground," Councillor Katris said. "We will discuss the matter with council officers and relay the businesses concerns and see if anything can be done."