DOLLAR residents have served notice on the local council that they will not stop agitating until the local roads are repaired to their satisfaction.
Graeme Dyke, President of the Dollar Residents’ Improvement Association, a group formed specifically to lobby for improvements to local roads, addressed South Gippsland Shire Council in a public presentation session last Wednesday. He was backed up by Frank Oostermeyer and a video the pair screened showing the poor state of the main road through Dollar.
Mr Dyke reiterated points he had earlier raised in a written submission to Council.
He sought assurances that the $285,000 set aside in the 2012/13 South Gippsland Shire Council Budget would be used on the section of Dollar Road in most need of repairs.
“Dollar Road is a pivotal arterial road for the district of Dollar and its environs, being used for all emergency services, including CFA and Ambulance. It is also used for large trucks and semitrailers, milk tankers and grain trucks delivering services to the district,” he wrote in his submission.
Mr Dyke said the Dollar community had warned Council about the dangerous deterioration of the Dollar Road for many years but yet little had been done. “The big thing we’re worried about is safety.”
He said Dollar residents had paid nearly half a million dollars in rates over the past nine years “but the condition of Dollar Road is still deplorable…The parish of Dollar is neglected compared to those who live in the townships.”
Mr Dyke acknowledged that Council had sent a grader to Dollar Road three weeks ago, but claimed it had been “totally inefficient” and used the video footage, taken three days after the grader’s visit, to boost his argument, pointing out that the road was still heavily corrugated, lacked camber and was down to soft rock with no gravel in places.
Shire management has responded in writing to the issues raised by the Dollar residents, and Mayor Warren Raabe and Shire Director of Infrastructure Anthony Seabrook also spoke on the matter after Mr Dyke’s presentation.
They said that in addition to the money set aside in the Budget, there was still outstanding flood money to be used – there has been insufficient dry weather of late to make use of all this funding.
“As we’re given the time we will do the work,” said the mayor. He reminded everyone of last week’s announcement: “Council is reviewing the way it is working on its unsealed road network in a major effort over the next six months. The repairs that we’re going to get should be of a better standard than you got three weeks ago.”
“What went wrong was that you didn’t act four years ago when we had dry weather,” retorted Mr Dyke.
“We acknowledge we were wrong and we are endeavouring to get it right,” said Cr Raabe.
“Anything would be better than what we have at the moment,” said Mr Oostermeyer.
He and Mr Dyke sought assurances from Council that the Dollar community would be consulted throughout the repair process so that they get the repairs they consider necessary.
Mr Seabrook said he would be having a meeting with the residents shortly, but Cr David Lewis, who has long been supportive of the Dollar community’s efforts to get Council to repair their roads, said he feared one meeting would not be enough.
The shire’s chief executive officer moved quickly to placate any such fears. “We will take the residents’ views on board and work with them to get what they want and any future money if necessary,” said Tim Tamlin.