WHAT do you think about road safety in South Gippsland’s coastal townships of Sandy Point and Venus Bay, and how can things be improved in both places for walkers and cyclists, as well as motorists?
South Gippsland Shire Council is inviting residents, property and business owners, and visitors alike to “have your say on the future of paths and trails in Sandy Point and Venus Bay” by taking part in an online survey by Friday July 28, 2023.
The survey takes the form of two parts, one for each town, and may be found under the “Sandy Point and Venus Bay Paths & Trails” button via the Your Say link on the Shire’s website at www.
The Shire states that “building on the feedback we heard through the [South Gippsland] Coastal Strategy engagement we’re keen to hear from our community on road safety and possible pedestrian and bike path locations in these two locations.”
For Sandy Point, the Shire is “interested in your thoughts on the proposed Loop Track and potential vegetation removal.”
The suggested route for the Loop Track runs beside Sandy Point Road from Telopea Drive to Ennisvale Avenue, then on-road along Ennisvale Avenue to Graeme Grove, then on-road west along Graeme Grove to Beach Parade.
For Venus Bay, the Shire is seeking opinions on a possible connection between Estate 1 and Estate 2 to provide access into town, and on potential vegetation removal.
Three potential routes are suggested, with all starting at the intersection of Lees Road and Canterbury Road, and ending at Jupiter Boulevard.
The first route extends along Canterbury Road and Centre Road; the second along Lees Road and Centre Road, and the third route goes along Lees Road to Jupiter Boulevard.
The Sandy Point Paths and Trails Survey includes questions to determine how concerned respondents are about pedestrian and cyclist safety and what they believe the main issues are for each of these two categories.
With “a long-term vision for the town” in mind, respondents are also asked to nominate which of two options they prefer “for improving pedestrian and bicycle safety”, and to indicate the reasoning behind their choice.
The options are; “building footpaths or off-street trails (this will involve removal of vegetation)”, and “creating shared traffic zones with reduced speed limits and traffic calming measures.”
The Shire, too, wants to learn the extent of community support for “trimming roadside vegetation as a short-term action to improve road safety”, and to identify “any other cyclist or pedestrian path opportunities in your township”.
The survey ends by asking what each respondent’s connection to Sandy Point and South Gippsland is, such as, whether they are a local, a visitor or a holiday home owner, where their main place of residence is, and optional demographic details.
The Sandy Point survey also includes an explanatory note about “Waratah Way”, which is a mooted walking and cycling track between Sandy Point and Waratah Bay townships, parallel to the foreshore.
The note reads that the “Council recognises that there is community support for the Waratah Way project however, as indicated in the 2018 Paths and Trails Strategy, construction of the trail is problematic due to environmental impacts and the need to acquire private land, which was not supported at the 30 May 2018 Council Meeting.
“As such, this project is not currently being considered as a pathway priority.”
Similar information and responses are sought in the Venus Bay Paths and Trails Survey.
At the Shire Council’s open meeting held in Leongatha on Wednesday June 28, 2023, councillors voted to “consider a pathway along Sandy Point Road via the Paths and Trails Strategy assessment matrix and for capital funding allocations in future years”.
This decision follows the tabling of a petition and a joint letter from lead petitioner Caitlin Pilkington and the Sandy Point Community Group Inc. (SPCG) calling for the Shire to support such a pathway at the May 17, 2023, open council meeting.
The petition, which was signed by 121 people, also asked the Shire to include a Sandy Point Road pathway in the South Gippsland Paths and Trails Strategy.
The prayer of the petition read that “we strongly believe that the construction of a suitably designed safe path alongside the Sandy Point Road, similar to the Roy Henderson Path, which connects Manuka Street and Shallow Inlet would greatly improve safety.”
The prayer also stated that “we thereby urge the South Gippsland Shire Council to address this matter as soon as possible by ensuring our request is placed on the South Gippsland Shire Paths and Trails Strategy.”
The accompanying cover letter included a map, project background, photographs, and community benefits.
The Shire adopted the current Paths and Trails Strategy on May 30, 2018, and, according to a report in the June 28, 2023 meeting agenda and minutes, “this financial year, there are two Council Plan initiatives to paths and trails.”
The first is to “review the unfunded project list in the Paths and Trails Strategy for inclusion in future Capital Works Program, with a focus on connecting small towns where population growth is occurring.”
The second initiative is to “undertake a feasibility study for future pedestrian and bike paths in Venus Bay and Sandy Point.”
The councillors commended Ms Pilkington and the SPCG for the amount of local information and research that had accompanied the petition in support of the Sandy Point Road pathway project.
The cost of the project has been estimated at between $2 million and $2.5 million.
In relation to the Sandy Point and Venus Bay surveys, the Shire says that “we have already had an amazing response, but we would love to hear more” by Friday July 28, 2023.
To provide feedback, visit:www.yoursay.southgippsland.vic.gov.au