THE Committee of Management made a presentation to the public presentation meeting of Council last Wednesday and advised them that the current Committee will not be seeking reappointment by the Minister after their term expires on the June 30 2017.
The Rail Trail Committee of Management asked the Shire to take over the management of the Rail Trail as they believe they are the most appropriate body to do this. A decision by the Shire will be made in due course.
Other options are that the Committee of Management for DWELP (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning) take over the reigns or call for a new committee to take charge.
The current Committee of Management believes the same issues would face an incoming Committee – size and scope of the job for a volunteer Committee and the time it takes for day to day management which is the equivalent of one full time job. There is no getting away from the fact that members of the Committee are on call 24/7 365 days of the year. There is always an issue to attend to.
Below is a summary of the presentation that was presented to Council by Secretary Rob Knight and President Neville Pulham.
What is the Trail
- The Rail Trail is now 77km from Leongatha to Port Welshpool
- Used by community and visitors for walking, cycling, horse riding and events such as Fun Runs
- Open 24/7 – 365 days a year and managed by a volunteer committee for 365 days a year
The Trail is important for our community for:
- Historic preservation
- Community Identity
- Safety – keeps cyclists off roads
- Extend to Nyora
- Potential link to Port Franklin
- Conversations with Wellington Shire over extension to Yarram
- Foster – Development of a Mountain Bike Trail – up Cement Hill
Management of Rail Trails throughout Victoria
- Of the 17 Rail Trails in Victoria – 15 are managed by local Councils – only one small Trail and GSRT are not managed by a local Council
What has GSRT achieved in partnership with Council and DWELP
- The Committee of Management is thrilled with the Trail today – which is the result of incredible hard work by many and particularly the huge amount of work done by volunteer members of CoM and Shire Engineers
- But the Trail is now at the start of a new phase
- There are exciting future plans for extension and other new ideas and skills are needed for marketing etc
What is the GSRT Committee of Management
- The Trail is managed by a dedicated volunteer unpaid Committee of Management
- It is Crown Land and DWELP is responsible for Crown Land
- Under the Crown Land Reserves Act 1978 the Minister is able to appoint Committees of Management to manage specified Crown Land and so a Committee of Management was appointed to manage the Great Southern Rail Trail and the adjoining Crown Land
- The Minister appoints members of the CoM for a 3 year term
- The term of members of current CoM finished 14 April 2017 but has been extended until 30 June 2107
- Each CoM member has indicated that they are not prepared to go on past that date
- BUT of course if a decision is made that Council will take over management then CoM members will continue to work very hard to ensure a smooth and orderly transition
What does the CoM do
- Day to day management and queries – trees down, wasps nests, users reporting problems
- Maintenance management of the Trail – weeds, tree lopping, maintenance contract management, Capital works, shelter sheds, toilets, bridges
- Marketing and Communication – Facebook, Website, Signage, working with community, organising and publicising events
- Licences – Crown Land adjoining the Rail Trail is licensed to local farmers and or businesses – licences have to be reviewed every 3 years – rental determined, licences drafted including special conditions applying to individual licensees, then licence agreed to by licensee and DWELP. This is all done by CoM – minimal assistance from DWELP – it is a huge administrative job involving property valuation, surveying and legal skills
- Financial – Yearly budget prepared – financial reports to each monthly meeting with YTD actual against budget forecasts. Invoices sent out for licence fees, follow up of arrears
- Funding – Applying for funding and special grants – Huge amount of paperwork
- Without volunteer contribution of CoM it is estimated that it costs $1,500 per kilometre to look after the Trail – that is $120,000 p.a.
- Capital works another $20,000 – $30,000 p.a.
- It is one full time role to look after the Trail
- It is too much for a volunteer committee to look after this $6 million plus asset
Action taken by CoM
- Since October 2016 has been discussing future management of the Trail with DWELP and Council
- Presentation made to Council April 19 asking them to take over management
- Members of the CoM can become and advisory Committee of Friends of the Trail after their term of office expires – this is a role far more suited to community volunteers
Why don’t we appoint a new committee to carry on
- It is proving increasingly difficult to recruit people to formally apply for a position on the CoM
- The present CoM has done what they can do and the Trail is in a great state
- BUT the work the CoM is tasked with doing require specific skills and knowledge AND a huge commitment of time
- The future maintenance and development of the Trail will rely on Council involvement – they have the skills and expertise in:
- Negotiation across Council boundaries
- Financial skills – particularly applying for funding
- Marketing skills – including social media
- Engineering expertise of large capital works projects
- The Rail Trail cannot be a piecemeal job. It needs the total length of the Rail Trail under one management .
Members of current Committee of Management
Members from Fish Creek, Foster and Toora:
- Neville Pulham – President
- Rob Knight – Secretary
- Fleur Stefani – Treasurer
- Kevin Flett
- Bill Gurnett
- Joe Bucello
- Russell Forte
- Bruce Beatson
- Mayor Ray Argento is on the Committee as the Council representative.