September 7 - 13, 2014: Issue 179

 Avalon Beach Surf Life Saving Club Opening - Sunday 31 August 2014

President of Avalon Beach SLSC Christine Hopton with Mayor of Pittwater, Cr. Jacqueline Townsend last Sunday.

Avalon Beach Surf Life Saving Club Opening - Sunday 31 August 2014

The official opening of the new clubhouse for the Avalon Beach SLSC took place last weekend, the culmination of a lot of hard work by many and in particular by President of Avalon Beach surf club Christine Hopton, Project Director Robert Hopton and Architect Richard Cole - so much so that these three were awarded very special Order of Avalon Medals.

Many residents have watched with interest the rise of this new structure, held their breath when obstacles arose and cheered when they were overcome. Last Sunday members from Nipper's age through to Masters held an official whole of club March Past and were the first to enter their new club rooms.

Every younger member we asked about their new clubhouse was very pleased with it and excited about the future - more mature stalwarts were looking forward to testing out the new gym or discussing plans on how to raise extra funds to build racks for boards and other equipment that will be needed to meet this 89th year of Avalon Beach surf lifesavers.

Last Sunday it was about the new clubhouse though, and the vision realised this now is. 

The Mayor of Pittwater, Councillor Jacqueline Townsend and Christine Hopton officially opened the new building with the Honourable Bronwyn Bishop and Steve Parkes daughters cutting the ribbon. 

We thank both these ladies for allowing us to share, for the record, the Official Mayoral Address and some details on this new surf lifesaving building.

Mayoral Speech - Avalon Beach Surf Life Saving Club Opening - Sunday 31 August 2014
Good afternoon
Before I begin, I acknowledge that Pittwater Council  honours and respects the spirits of the Guringai people. Council acknowledges their traditional custodianship of the Pittwater area.

I’d like to welcome our special guests here today, our local member for Mackellar and Speaker of the House and Avalon Beach Surf Life Saving Club Patron The Hon. Bronwyn Bishop and fellow patron of the club Mr John Brogden.

Our local member for Pittwater, and NSW Minister for the Environment, Mr Rob Stokes is unable to be with us today, due to ministerial commitments. I do however have a message from Rob, which I will read for you shortly.

I’m joined today by our General Manager, Mr Mark Ferguson, Pittwater Council’s Deputy Mayor Cr Ferguson, Cr Griffith, Cr Grace, Cr Hegarty, Cr White and Cr Millar. Unfortunately Crs Young and McTaggart were unable to join us today.

I am pleased to be accompanied on this occasion by your surf club’s president, Christine Hopton, and I congratulate Christine on your re-election this morning.

We are here to mark the end of a significant project that’s been six years in the making, and also marks a new beginning with this wonderfully refurbished facility.

This project is a true representation of what can be achieved when communities, state and local governments work together. This community facility is the home of the Avalon Beach surf life saving club and a facility for our wider community. 

Aside from being visually impressive… this building has a host of environmental factors that add to its charm. There is a 10,000L rainwater tank that has been installed – which will be used to wash down the surf life saving equipment. A 5kW Solar PV System has been installed that will produce over 7,000kWh of free green power each year. 

Elements of the old were incorporated into the new building and have been painted a slightly different colour to identify the original structure. An example is in the Nippers canteen – the sill has been made from recycled oregon timber from the old building’s roof beams.
It is built to an all abilities design with the building incorporating ramps, a lift as well as tactile ground surface indicators and braille signs.
I know many of you here today have committed your time, energy and resources to this project –I pay my respects to you all and thank you for your contribution.

At council, staff have overseen the project working with the project manager Rob Hopton, to the design of Richard Cole Architect.
There is no doubt this was an ambitious project with many hurdles to overcome, and I would like to congratulate the members of the Avalon Surf Club for your professionalism, vision and commitment to building a facility not only for your club members, but for the wider community to enjoy in this magic place some call home, and others call Avalon.

This result is a testament to the dedication and loyalty of your members and the strength of a community which has brought this project to completion.

I’d like now to read the message from Rob Stokes:
“I’m delighted to offer my congratulations at the official opening of the new Avalon Beach Surf Life Saving Club.
This project has been many years in the making and has seen incredible vision, drive, discipline and determination to get to this point.
I am in complete awe of the organisational capacity of Chris Hopton, the amazing leadership of Robert Hopton, the design excellence of Richard Cole, the teamwork of the committee, and the terrific investment and support of Pittwater Council.
All of this was achieved against the backdrop of ill-placed and even criminal opposition.
This new building will help tie in Avalon Beach with the town centre and, most importantly, provide a base from which our volunteer surf life savers can ensure a safe environment for all beachgoers.
For all these reasons I’m delighted to support this project and I’m very pleased the NSW Government has been able to provide more than $350,000 to assist the Club in achieving its vision.
Congratulations to everyone involved.

On the building itself:

From Avalon Beach SLSC – Annual Report 2013/14:

Architect’s Building Report
The first structure to house the Avalon Surf Life Saving Clubhouse was built by Warringah Council in 1934. The second major renovation occurred in 1950, with the third and last major renovations in 1961. The fourth and most significant transformation to date was completed in 2014.

It is the end of a long road and the culmination of so much effort by so many people. Despite a few naysayers, the necessity for a major upgrade to the surf club was obvious to the vast majority of club members and the community.

First proposed in 2006 by Robert and Christine Hopton, the concept for a major renovation of the Surf Club was adopted by Pittwater Council in the Avalon Beach Plan of Management in 2007. In 2011 things really started to come together. Detailed concept plans were completed, consultant reports organised, an application lodged and Development Consent received. A considerable proportion of funding for the project was also secured by means of the special rates levy in 2011. The building committee consisting of Robert Hopton, Richard Cole and Christine Hopton then set about completing the documentation for the project and put together the rest of the funding.

While the detailed drawings and specifications were being collated, applications for funding grants were submitted and companies and suppliers approached to contribute to the project. Despite having success on all these fronts, the numbers still did not add up.
A restaurant was proposed on the first floor at the southern end of the building, the lease of which would pay off additional capital funding and provide a long term revenue stream for the upgrading of the entire Avalon Beach Reserve into the future. Council adopted this in early 2013 after many Community Meetings and three Council meetings.

At the same time, expressions of interest were called from builders and a shortlist of  qualifying tenderers compiled. In December 2012 the project was put out to tender.  Tenders for the building were received in February 2013 and following a rigorous  selection process, Keystone Projects Group was appointed the builder. Work commenced on site in May 2013.

Robert has detailed the exceptional support we received from our Building Partners. It was remarkable the support we received from these companies, all of whom were only too happy to help and contribute, and who asked nothing in return If you have the opportunity. Please support these companies.

The building process itself has been extremely challenging from start to finish. I would personally like to thank the dedicated staff at Pittwater Council for their perseverance and belief in the project, in particular Mark Ferguson, Les Munn, John Berry, Glyn Avery, Mark Ericsson and Peter Rodham.

All building projects have their challenges, but I have yet to come across anything to date as execrable as the litigant we encountered. 
The construction phase of the project has not run smoothly. Subcontractors for the  concrete, cladding and lining, roofing, windows and doors, roller doors and painting trades have all had to be replaced, some a number of times. 

There have been issues with the three major elements that define any building project – time, cost and quality. Although with more than 3700 emails being sent and received and an ongoing and constant presence on site, quality will be achieved and the building will reflect our dreams and aspirations.

Despite the difficulties and prolonged process, I am very proud of what we have achieved. I think the design complements the landscape. The shape of the roof reflects the abstract form of the sand dunes, and the plane of the ceiling and eave echoes the plane of the ocean and broad horizontal of the horizon. We have created a robust building that will stand the test of time. The building is naturally ventilated, highly insulated, uses minimal energy and collects its own rainwater and solar power. Unlike some other clubs, we have created a facility that is welcoming and open to the general public. I hope the building will become a much used and loved facility by the community. I am confident that with its spectacular views, a table in the restaurant or a seat in the café will become much sought after.

Finally I would like to thank our immutable President Christine Hopton, and my partner in crime, Robert Hopton. Chris, on top of all of her other commitments, has been  unflagging in her support and dedication, constantly negotiating the best outcome for the Club.
Despite constant setbacks and pitfalls (and there were many), and in the face of every challenge and obstacle, Robert calmly and professionally mapped out a path, put together a report and saw our way through. There is no question that without these two we would still be languishing in our old clubhouse with the ceiling falling down around us. This committed couple deserves nothing but the highest accolades from every member of the Club and community.
Richard Cole - Architect

Richard Cole

Project Director’s Building Report

The project has reached Practical Completion and we have moved in. What a wonderful and momentous occasion for all of us, for the Club, for the Community and for our Partners. Special mention must be made to Pittwater Council which has continually demonstrated a clear desire over the many years to work with us as our major partner.
We also recognise the NSW Government, represented by Rob Stokes, the member for Pittwater. Rob, who is a member of Mona Vale SLSC, has been a constant champion of our dreams and his representation ensured that the grants were successful.
Thank you, Rob.

In last year’s Annual Report I summarised the actions undertaken from 2006 through to the beginning of construction in May 2013.
Looking back on that report I realised that I was a shade optimistic in believing that the refurbishment was going to be completed at the end of 2013. As we all are aware, we were continually involved in court actions in addition to the building requiring much attention to ensure that we got the quality of finish that was specified and demanded.

For that my heartfelt thanks go to Richard Cole, who has been unstinting in his determination to ensure that the quality building that you see around you reflects his work as the architect.

I would also like to share our gratitude and thanks for the leadership that our President, Christine Hopton, has shown over these past 12 months in providing a clear direction for the Club and in the Courts to ensure that we could all get on with providing patrols and delivering this spectacular building.

So what does it all mean, what are the facts of the building?

Area Comparison
The total area of the leasehold space in the old club (including the terrace but excluding balconies) was 885 sq m. The total area of the new club leasehold space, including the Club Room but excluding the balconies, is 1089 sq m.
The balconies add a further 200sq m. 

Within this space, there are a number of comparisons that need to be noted for future generations to come, as I am sure that they would never believe the state of the old club building that we operated out of. The areas under the Council’s control, consisting of the cafe, the restaurant, the lifeguard room and the public change rooms, are additional and not part of the Club’s lease.

Club Contribution
The Club has made a significant contribution towards this project through a direct financial contribution, and also by gaining recognition from both State and Community bodies for grants, negotiations with major national building supply companies to provide building materials at cost, and the provision of consultancy services at a greatly reduced rate.
We also attended court 14 times to defend ourselves against the local pest and discussed and negotiated extensively with Council on a range of issues.

In summary:
Building Costs

(All costs do not include GST.)
1. The Quantity Surveyor’s report based on the Development Application design and dated 15/8/12 was $2,630,000.
2. The budget presented to the Council Meeting on 18/2/13 was as follows:
• $400,000 estimated savings in building material donations
• $1,300,000 through Special Rate Variation – Council Levy
• $400,000 direct Club contribution (at that time the Club confirmed $360,000 had already been raised)
• $320,000 approved Sport and Recreation Grant
• $37,000 Community Building Fund
• $400,000 internal Council Loan paid back from the rental on the restaurant
The total budget was $2,858,000.
3. The accepted tender was $2,500,000.
4. The current contract sum as of 23rd June 2014, including variations, is $2,850,000. The variations included the additional balcony to the North Elevation which was removed during an earlier value management session, additional works to enclose the restaurant area, other building works and delays caused through court litigation.

This sum does not include the substantial legal costs (approximately $100,000) incurred and paid for by the Council. The Club’s legal costs were on a pro bono basis when a barrister was required and, by our President, who attended court and did not charge for her time. Additionally, Richard Cole, who was threatened by the litigant, was forced to take out an AVO that resulted in him having to attend court on six occasions.

Additional to this the Council would have spent a further $150,000 (approximately) on providing utility connections, an inground water tank and solar panels on the roof.
5. The area of the completed building including the Council-run areas is 1,446 sq m, not including the balconies and external areas (which total 200 sq m).
6. The current cost per square meter of the building, including variations but excluding the additional costs such as consultancy fees and legal costs, is $1,800 per sq m. A commercial building of this type would be typically around $2,200 to $2,500 per sq m or approximately 40% more.

Avalon Surf Life Saving Club has contributed the following to the development:
• Initiated the process of the redevelopment, starting in 2006, and attended six community meetings, three full Council meetings and numerous meetings with Council staff to  ensure that the development proposal would be approved.
• Prepared concept plans at no cost and presented them to three of the community  meetings.
• Provided the Development Application Plan preparedby Robert Hopton, at a saving of approximately $50,000. This included providing pro bono services to the Council to incorporate their ‘part’ of the building into the new design.
• Arranged consultants at no cost.
• Provided structural engineering/hydraulic engineering/coastal engineering at greatly reduced costs.
• Provided quantity surveying and geo tech engineering at no cost.
• Provided contract documentation by Richard Cole, saving approximately $160,000.
• Provided the Project Director, Robert Hopton, at a saving of approximately $50,000. This included initiating a connection with the community through weekly site tours from October 2013, applying for grants, contacting and negotiating with Richard Cole for the supply of building materials at cost and negotiating with Council.
• Applied for (twice) and were awarded grants worth $358,000.
• Provided $423,000 in cash.
• Provided the following Supply Partner’s who supplied building materials/equipment at cost, approximately saving $400,000.
- One Steel supplied all the steel reinforcing.
- Austral Masonry supplied all the block work.
- Stramit supplied roof sheeting, gutters, fascia, downpipes, insulation and rainwater plumbing.
- Big Ass Fans.
- Harvey Norman commercial provided sanitary items and a projector screen.
- CSR Cemintel supplied Barestone cladding and the Expresswall system.
- CSR Gyprock upgraded all the plasterboard from standard to impact resistant.
- Solartex provided insulation.
- Style Finish supplied the door hardware at a significant discount
- Viridian upgraded all the glass from clear float to high performance at no additional cost.
- Dulux supplied all the paint for exterior/interior and the steel for no cost.
- Easy Living supplied the lift at a discount of approximately $15,000.

The following consultants provided services either for free or at greatly reduced cost:
• Barrenjoey Consulting Engineers
• Bruce Davies – Quantity Surveyor
• ITM Design – Hydraulic engineer
• Croziers – Geotechnical consultants
• Jack Hodgsons – Geotechnical consultants
• Barrister xxxxxx
• Richard Cole Architects
• Project Director Hopton Holdings

These organisations are our friends; please support them if you have the opportunity. The building process itself has been extremely challenging from start to finish. Special  mention must be made to the dedicated staff at Pittwater Council for their perseverance  and belief in the project, in particular Mark Ferguson, Les Munn, John Berry, Glyn  Avery, Peter Rodham and Mark Ericsson.
We also attended Court hearings to defend ourselves as follows:
- Land and Environment Court (6 times) Christine Hopton
- Supreme Court (2 times) Christine Hopton
- North Sydney Court (3 times) Richard Cole
- Downing Street Court (3 times) Richard Cole

The Club has contributed in excess of $1,400,000 towards the project. This is a major contribution to the Club, to the community and to Surf Life Saving.

There is still some way to go to finish the project. Racking systems are needed for the boards, skis and IRBs. There is a need to replace the very rusted trailers that we have and we have made an extraordinary start with a $7,000 anonymous donor to go towards the patrol trailer, plus of course the donation from the body surfers for the barbecue. There is furniture still to be purchased and equipment for the bar such as glass washing machines is still to be found.

So, money is to be raised, halls are to be hired and sausages are to be cooked to finalise the project - it’s all in front of us.
Be proud of your achievements and dare to dream.
Robert Hopton - Project Director

Richard Cole - Architect, Graham Ford President (Chair) SLS Australia, Hon. Bronwyn Bishop, MP for Mackellar and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Christine Hopton, President of Avalon Beach SLSC, Mayor of Pittwater Cr. Jacqueline Townsend, Tony Haven Surf Life Saving NSW President and Robert Hopton, Project Director for new clubhouse.


Thousands of Avalon Beach SLSC members, their families and the community visited the southern corner of Avalon Beach last Sunday to walk through the new clubhouse, do cartwheels on the sand if smaller, and marvel at how a building can be kept a surf club in embracing the sea and sky it fronts, and complimenting the landscape it nestles into so that the run of green hills that form the valley of Avalon are where the eyes are lifted to. 

The vision of Richard Cole, Christine and Robert Hopton, Pittwater Council and every member of Avalon Beach Surf Life Saving Club who has 'bought a brick', or two, has built large airy rooms that cohesively epitomise functional use and an openness to every tendril of breeze which in many ways is how people define Pittwater itself - big skies, salt air, glorious vistas to every horizon.

This building will serve the Avalon Beach community for decades to come and enable the qualified lifesaving volunteers who ensure the safety of beach goers to get on with what they're on the sand for - to keep an eye out for all, to save lives, teach others about lifesaving through education whether they're knee high or adult, and share skills and a love of an oceanic lifestyle that is second to none.

Testing out the new gym

Avalon Beach SLSC welcomes new members to join and membership is now open for the 2014/2015 season. Patrols start for the season on September 20 and a new Bronze Medallion squad will commence training in October (see their Education page for details).


Pittwater Online News Public Galleries of Avalon Beach SLSC's new clubhouse Official Opening Day are HERE for members and family.