THE results of the latest OurSay Forum are in, with a suggestion to recycle waste water for use on local sporting grounds the clear winner in the Foster community.
South Gippsland Shire Council ran the online OurSay Forum from September 1 to September 21, inviting the communities of Foster, Venus Bay, Korumburra and Mirboo North to suggest how $400,000 could best be spent on capital works in their respective communities next financial year.
The shire’s media and communications coordinator, Rick Rutjens, said the response had been very pleasing.
“We had a much better response than we had anticipated after the first round of ‘community budgeting’ in November last year,” he said.
Residents were invited to vote on ideas gathered from their community plans or the Long Term Capital Works Program or add a passionate idea of their own – and hundreds seized the chance to make their views known.
The top three ideas, in terms of numbers of votes garnered, will be discussed further at community meetings to be held later this month in each of the four communities. In Foster there will be a meeting in the main hall (FWMAC) at 5pm on Thursday October 27. The people who contributed online to the forum will be sent invitations to attend, but everyone is welcome. Council appreciates that many people prefer face-to-face rather than online consultation and is hoping to hear from as many people as possible.
In the meantime, Shire officers will be investigating the feasibility of the ideas the communities have come up with (such as whether the shire has any jurisdiction over the land concerned) and will prepare some costings, which they will bring to the meetings.
“If there is a groundswell of support for a completely new idea, it will be considered. It will be up to the people at the community meetings,” added Mr Rutjens.
The results of the meetings will be written up and reports prepared for consideration by the newly elected Council at their December meeting.
Greg Cox came up with the idea of building infrastructure at Foster Showgrounds and Foster golf course to recycle water from the waste water treatment plant just south of Foster. He said both sporting bodies currently use potable water, at considerable expense, to maintain sporting facilities. His idea received 165 votes from the public, as well as some enthusiastic comments. Mr Cox also suggested the recycled water could be directed to Prom Country Aged Care for the gardens at Prom Country House. It would, he pointed out, benefit the environment and preserve potable water whilst maintaining important sporting facilities.
Marilynne Zanella’s suggestion to enlarge the library at Foster received the second highest number of votes – 88. She argued: “The current space is very cramped, especially when babies’ and children’s activities are happening. More space is needed for storage apart from the shelving area, and a meeting room would provide space for library-associated activities, such as book discussion groups, author visits, Friends of the Library meetings, U3A classes and more. Computers would not have to be placed so near the library entrance in the walkway to the loans desk. Modern library facilities such as genealogical resources and new types of literature, such as graphic novels, could be accommodated.”
The third most popular suggestion attracted 59 votes. Andrew County suggested “a kids’ park and BBQ at the reserve area between Devlin Street and Wood Court”. He said the area was overgrown, creating a fire and snake risk for local householders. It could easily, he argued, be made into a grassy area with a swing and/or slide and maybe a BBQ for locals to enjoy.
The idea that attracted the most votes in the Venus Bay community was the extension of the local lifesaving club to include better public toilet facilities. This attracted 50 votes. Only half as many votes went to the second most popular idea. This was to “help us recover from the loss of our township Open Spaces” through the mass planting of indigenous trees and shrubs, development of Van Cleef Reserve, construction of a boardwalk above the local wetland, installation of sculptures and benches and the purchase of more wetlands. The third most popular idea (23 votes) was to extend the bike land on Lees Road back to the Inverloch-Venus Bay Road and towards the estate at Point Smythe, to ultimately create a connection between all three estates in Venus Bay.
In Mirboo North the most popular idea was the refurbishment of the local pool, which is already part of the community plan and has long been recognised as a deep-seated wish of the community. This attracted 85 votes. Increasing/improving footpath connections to the town centre attracted 51 votes, while the creation of long bay parking areas for trucks and caravans to utilise when stopping in the town attracted 22 votes.
In Korumburra the people really got behind community budgeting. They awarded a whopping 291 votes to the suggestion of improving the local soccer club/cricket club grounds. Almost as much support (227 votes) was given to the idea of upgrading and repairing the Korumburra tennis club facilities. The third most popular suggestion was also sports-related, with 139 votes for funding to upgrade the Korumburra Indoor Recreation Centre to include the building of a third court.
Details of the next steps in the community budgeting process, including dates and times for community meetings in each of the four communities, will be made available shortly in the local press.