A group of residents of The [email protected] Payoh are irked that their objections to the building of a Residents’ Committee (RC) centre at the void deck have gone unheeded.
The kerfuffle started when a notice was put up in March last year that the centre will be built at the void deck of Block 139B, stirring some residents to start a petition against the move, which they submitted to area Member of Parliament Hri Kumar Nair last June. Out of 246 units in that block, residents from 163 signed the petition.
Despite the RC exploring alternative sites and adjusting plans — including reducing the size of the centre — because of concerns raised, residents were unmoved in their view. Building the centre, they said, will eat up their void deck space, as well as affect ventilation, lighting and safety of the area, among other things.
Housewife Huang Eng Hui, 35, who lives at the affected block and is one of those who signed the petition, worries about the centre hindering evacuation in the event of a fire.
“Because we have a lot of wheelchair users, young families with prams, in case of a fire, when people are coming down, they will need a straight path,” she said.
The upcoming centre will also involve shifting the unloading bay to another area, which is near a blind spot where an accident had happened, she added.
Another resident staying in that block agreed that an RC centre is necessary for the area, but she prefers to have it built elsewhere.
The 31-year-old civil servant, who wanted to be identified only as Ms Josephine said: “It’s the Not-In-My-Backyard (NIMBY) attitude, but I think I’m not that keen on having an RC centre underneath the block. It’s better remaining an open space.”
Other residents said it was not a case of NIMBY syndrome, pointing to how they had suggested alternative sites, besides void decks, for the RC centre.
In a statement on April 7, Mr Charlie Chew, chairman of The Peak RC, said they had considered siting the centre at the rooftop of the multi-storey carpark and a standalone building, among other areas.
Eventually, they secured the use of the Utility Room as a second site for the RC centre, allowing them to build a smaller centre at Block 139B, thereby addressing the residents’ concerns about ventilation, lighting, evacuation, and safety.
Yesterday, Mr Chew told TODAY: “Their expectations of (not having a) RC centre at the void deck were not met, that’s why they interpret this as ‘I’m saying this but you’re not listening’.”
When contacted, Mr Hri Kumar said it is unfair to label this incident as a case of NIMBY-ism, noting that it was the first time his constituents have expressed concerns about building an RC centre.
He added that the RC had tried to address concerns by redrawing plans but the current arrangements remain the “best compromise”, given the lack of suitable alternative locations.
Asked if communication with the residents could have been better, Mr Hri Kumar said: “It’s always a challenge, not just this case, to disseminate information.
“We can always learn, it may be a question of stepping up the frequency of notices, it may well be a question of doing more direct connections door-to-door … we have to keep trying our best to get the message across, deal with issues and do the best we can.”