The Mirror News

Communities update plans for Meeniyan and district

IF some local dairy farmers have their way, there could soon be an automated local weather station providing information specific to the Tarwin Valley.

This is one of the ideas to emerge from the community planning workshop held to update the Meeniyan Community Plan – which now includes the wider district. The outcomes from the workshop form the basis for the Meeniyan and Stony Creek Community Plan Update 2011. Copies of the document are available at the Meeniyan Pharmacy and Newsagency and can also be viewed on both the Meeniyan and the South Gippsland Shire Council web pages.

HISTORY

A little historic background might be helpful:

In 2010, the Meeniyan district was the first community to commence and complete the community planning process under the banner of South Gippsland Shire Council’s ‘Community Directions.’

In July 2010 the Meeniyan Progress Association launched the Meeniyan Community Plan 2010 to the broader community and in September presented the plan to South Gippsland Shire Council, inviting Council to support and refer to the community plan where appropriate.

As part of South Gippsland Shire Council’s ‘Community Directions’ and ongoing support for community planning, Meeniyan’s Annual Community Plan Update process was commenced in July this year. It coincided with the introduction of the ‘Strengthening Small Dairy Communities’ Lower Tarwin Valley District Project. This new project is funded in partnership by South Gippsland Shire Council and the Geoffrey Gardiner Dairy Foundation. The Lower Tarwin Valley Project targets a cluster of eight communities, including Meeniyan, Stony Creek, Fish Creek, Buffalo, Dumbalk, Koonwarra, Venus Bay and Tarwin Lower, so the Meeniyan Community Plan Update was able to be supported by the project.

In June this year South Gippsland Shire Council’s Lower Tarwin Valley community facilitator, Marzia Maurilli, and community strengthening officer Barbara Look reconvened the original Meeniyan Community Plan Working Group. One of the key objectives of the update was to broaden community participation to include Stony Creek and the dairy sector in the process. Two additional community members, both dairy farmers from Stony Creek, joined the working group, and the original Meeniyan Community Plan was retitled ‘The Meeniyan and Stony Creek Community Plan, Update 2011.’

In April this year the state government announced the ‘Advancing Country Towns’ program, targeting the same cluster of communities as the Strengthening Small Dairy Communities – Lower Tarwin Valley Project. The introduction of both the Lower Tarwin Valley Project and the Advancing Country Towns Program presents the cluster district with considerable opportunities to develop and implement local and district-wide projects. Individual community plans in the Lower Tarwin Valley District will help inform and guide these programs’ future activities.

The renamed Meeniyan/Stony Creek Community Plan Working Group met fortnightly for the next few months with Marzia Maurilli and Barbara Look.  Together the working group and project officers planned for broad community consultation and input, dates and agenda for the community plan update workshop and the final format of the completed document.

Six-hundred flyers were distributed to households in the Meeniyan and Stony Creek area and via the Meeniyan IGA Supermarket, advertising the community plan update and community planning workshop. Approximately 30 community members attended the workshop on September 17. Guest speakers from South Gippsland Water and Bendigo Bank gave presentations and updates on relevant key community projects as identified in the Meeniyan Community Plan 2010.  Team leaders from each community plan project team reported on the current status of each priority project.

As a number of projects had been completed as far as they could go, other items listed within the 2010 Community Plan could move up into the Priority Project category. Participants had an opportunity to assess the priority of remaining items listed in the 2010 Community Plan and establish new project teams.

PROGRESS OF PROJECTS

The traffic management and upgrading of unsafe roads originally identified as a priority for Meeniyan has been completed as far as is feasible, although the group handling it will continue to meet on an as-needs basis.

The establishment of a community bank is currently on hold, though negotiations are continuing with Bendigo Bank.

With the sewerage scheme at Meeniyan near completion, the adjoining wetlands are progressing well. The project is being driven by South Gippsland Water, which hopes to have 40,000 plants in place eventually and is looking for interest in a Friends Group.

The group set up to look into a camping and caravan park with RV sewerage dump has had to shelve its plans for the moment.

Work is continuing on establishing a retirement village in Meeniyan; a project group is in discussions with the shire about an overall development plan for Meeniyan Hall; and concept plans for a playground/skate park at the recreation reserve are awaited.

New projects gaining priority status include an annual festival – following on from the successful Meeniyan On Fire Festival earlier this year – and the sealing of the road around the oval at the rec reserve, if the community can work together to achieve this.

There is also interest in developing a ‘sustainable Meeniyan and Stony Creek’ and perhaps developing a ‘Lower Tarwin Centre.’

In the wider district, there is interest in the automated local weather station mentioned above. The Bendigo Bank has expressed interest in this project, as has the Department of Planning and Community Development. Interest has also been expressed in a register of relief milker.

Marzia Maurilli said she is thoroughly enjoying working with the Meeniyan and Stony Creek communities. She especially thanked the working group for all their time and support and described their enthusiasm and good company as “very refreshing and energising”.

Meeniyan and Stony Creek Community Plan 2011 will again undergo a Community Plan Update process in 2012. In the meantime, anyone who would like to become involved in any of the community projects, or contribute ideas for new projects, is invited to contact Marzia Maurilli at South Gippsland Shire, tel. 03 5662 9805 or 0448 396 126.

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