IT IS an exciting time for Meeniyan Community Plan Working Group as it has held its final meeting prior to an official launch of the Meeniyan Integrated Community Plan.
Being Meeniyan, the launch is naturally taking place at a party, which will be held on Tuesday July 13 starting at 6.30pm in Meeniyan Hall.
The process was guided by South Gippsland Shire Council and a similar community planning exercise will be progressively being carried out for every community in the municipality.
Meeniyan expressed its keenness to be an early participant, so was one of the first four towns to undertake the process along with Loch, Poowong and Nyora.
Following a community planning session held in late March that was attended by 70 people, a number of working sub-committees were established and consultations were done with clubs, groups, primary students, teenagers and individuals.
The Working Group developing the Community Plan was assisted by Council’s community strengthening staff Marzia Maurilli, John Ernst and Barbara Look but was also backed up by staff from Council’s economic development and strategic land use planning teams.
The main content of the Draft Community Plan was completed two weeks ago and residents had until last Monday to check it for factual inaccuracies and minor errors.
However as of Friday June 25, Ms Maurilli said there had not been any feedback about mistakes.
The integrated community planning process includes regular annual reviews the document remains current as projects are completed, new ones move onto or up the priority list and the population changes its views.
After analysing the current and predicted “who we are” of Meeniyan, the Plan’s 32 pages of contents progresses through identifying the town’s assets and listing priority projects (with responsibility for action and the current state of progress indicated) under the topics of ‘Livability’, ‘Natural and Built Environment’, ‘Engaging our Youth’, ‘Town Infrastructure’, ‘Tourism’ and ‘Business Growth’.
Building on this information, a comprehensive, prioritised list of action plans was compiled.
The actions are annotated in terms of timelines, partnerships, resources and barriers as well as responsibility and status.
The sub-committees brought together people who were mutually interested in working on a specific project while other ideas raised by the community but which failed to attract anyone’s commitment to action, remain on the list and wait until a group of people decide to take them on.
As a consequence, Meeniyan now intends to move on:
- Getting a skate park and a good playground established near each other at the recreation reserve.
- Improvements to the hall.
- Development of the wetlands at Stony Creek.
- Establishing a caravan park/camping ground.
- Investigating the possibility of a retirement village.
- Opening a community bank branch; and
- Working on a list of traffic/road safety improvements.
The steps to take to complete these projects are clearly listed in the Plan for everyone to see.
One positive spin-off of the planning process is that senior level primary school students and teenagers are also involved in the effort, and learn about aspects such as team work, moving ideas through to project completion, and community volunteering.
Other benefits include the community realising its goals more easily and bringing in funding from outside sources more readily because of their organised preparation, the ability to demonstrate a business-like context for meeting articulated needs and evidence of broad community support.
Council’s Community Strengthening Coordinator Ned Dennis said the process commenced with the first four towns was “being fine-tuned ready for the next round of towns, although as expected, no one plan or process was exactly the same” due to individual local circumstances.
He noted that preliminary work has begun on a similar process for Toora, with the Toora Community Plan Working Group having just held its second meeting.
Mr. Dennis said that Foster is due to start is Integrated Community Planning process early in 2011.
Without naming any localities, the Council Plan 2010-2014 requires six town/community plans to be completed by June of each year.
The success of the integrated community planning process will be measured by participation in and endorsement of such plans, with a satisfactory result being “at least 10% of the population of large communities and 15% of smaller communities” being involved throughout the process.
As each locality completes its Integrated Community Plan 10 bound copies will be made that can be viewed as places such as libraries (static/mobile), Council reception and through the locality’s community association.
Online, the Community Plans will be accessible via both the Council’s and the community’s web site.
Copies on disc will also be available from Council and the relevant community association.