KALAMUNDA MP Matthew Hughes has questioned a recent Mundaring Council decision criticising State Government plans to close John Forrest Tavern.
While Mr Hughes holds fond memories of evenings spent in the Tavern as a young(er) lad with renown local artists such as Robert Juniper, he said it was too early to make comment on the outcome of the National Park upgrade as it was still in its design phase.
“The whole point of this process is the need to improve the visitor experience to the park without compromising the importance of the conservation as well,” he said.
“For generations, John Forrest National Park has been a recreational destination.
“It’s time that the facilities were improved to respond to the expectations that this generation has.”
But he said nostalgic memories like his had driven community outrage over the Tavern’s rumoured demolition and distracted from the overall vision for the park.
The park upgrade includes a new park hub with a “food and beverage offering” and visitor centre, upgrades to existing picnic areas, gardens and car parking, and improved walking and new off-road cycling trails.
While the non-renewal of the Tavern’s lease has fuelled speculation the building is set to be demolished, the State Government is yet to receive architectural plans for the site – which may or may not include the retention of the Tavern building.
Mr Hughes said he would support the best economic decision for the park.
“This isn’t just a commercial decision,” he said.
“This is about providing the amenity for people to experience the park and it can’t be narrowly directed to the way in which individuals might have an emotional attachment.
“I’m not going to say we’ll preserve the building at all costs because it has to be a building that fits the purpose, that’s the aim of the [architectural] work being done now.”
While the new park hub is being constructed, visitors will be able to buy food and drinks from licensed food vans – but they will not be a permanent replacement for the Tavern as has been widely misreported.
A lack of good information, said Mr Hughes, has led to claims the pub would be bulldozed to become a carpark and that going forward more transparency and public consultation was necessary.
“In the absence of good information, people will provide information,” he said.
“When options become available in June there needs to be an opportunity for feedback.”
Shire of Mundaring staff also noted “uncertainty” around public consultation and council voted this month to “strongly suggest” the matter go out to public consultation.
By Claire Ottaviano