The Mirror News

Launch of Foster Community Plan

FOSTER Community Association is calling for volunteers to carry out projects to improve the town and surrounding area.

At the launch of the Foster Community Plan 2011 at the Exchange Hotel last Thursday evening, association president Larry Giddy invited people to join project teams to implement the ideas set out in the plan.

Already Lloyd Morcom has generously volunteered to lead a community project team to get the Integrated Streetscape Design underway, but there are lots more projects requiring teams to implement them – and there is room for more volunteers to help Lloyd.

Copies of the Foster Community Plan were available for people to examine at the launch, and a very impressive document it is, too! Produced by the Foster Community Association with the support of South Gippsland Shire Council’s Community Strengthening Team, it is an immensely readable two-part document (Plan plus Appendices) with lots of colour photographs and tables.

The quality presentation of the plan was largely the work of Linda Giddy and Dawn Allan, and Larry invited Dawn to talk through the plan to guests at Thursday’s launch. There were about 30 people at the launch, including representatives of many of the clubs and organisations from Foster and district.

“We want people to champion projects and run with them, so that together we can get something accomplished,” said Larry. “As a community we have already managed to get several projects completed in the past year. We now have a management plan for Station Park, this Foster Community Plan and the development of Foster North Lookout is under way. This just shows that as a community we do get things done!”

The plan lists further initiatives delivered in recent years for the local community. These include a staffed Visitor Information Centre; an extension of footpaths to the hospital and rail trail; longer library hours; a children’s playground at Foster Showgrounds; an expanded network of walking, cycling and riding tracks around Foster; a farmers’ market; rebuilding of the bridge over Stockyard Creek; and a reduction in the speed limit through town.

In addition, a key recent achievement in the community was the development of the Prom Coast Centre for Children, which was championed by a specifically formed community group and is now operational.

Dawn explained that the Foster Community Plan outlines how the community wants to shape its town, identifies which priority areas need to be addressed to help fulfil that vision, and describes how priority items will be progressed.

She said the FCA developed the plan using a variety of inputs, including government and shire statistics, previous community studies and community feedback. The feedback was obtained from a Planning for Real community consultation during the state election last year – voters were invited to flag their interests on a map of Foster. Children from the local primary school were also consulted.

In general terms, the Foster community envisages a town which:

  • Provides a safe, healthy and stimulating environment which allows community members to grow up, be educated, work, play, create and retire in Foster;
  • Is a desirable residential environment for people of all age groups and from all walks of life;
  • Has managed growth but retains a small town feel with the beauty and amenities of its rural setting;
  • Encourages its citizens to reach their potential and provides support for these endeavours;
  • Is an attractive, interesting, vibrant and enjoyable destination for visitors.

The plan looks at the key challenges facing the town, naming these as:

  • Retaining and enhancing existing services;
  • Providing cost effective services to remote residents;
  • Changing demographics;
  • Retaining and creating employment opportunities;
  • Attracting new industries;
  • Attracting professionals to existing businesses and facilities;
  • Continuing to attract visitors to the area and encouraging them to stay longer.

On the plus side, the plan outlines “the diverse array of assets available to the community” from recreational facilities and natural attractions to sporting clubs and medical services.

SEEKING VOLUNTEERS TO IMPLEMENT PLAN

The community consultation resulted in 465 unique ideas for Foster. Between them these attracted 1814 votes, with the largest number of votes relating to improving the town centre. Collating the results, the FCA members categorised the various ideas under the broad headings of: Town Centre – Streetscape; Town Centre – Other; Roads; Social Infrastructure; Council; Recreation; and Environment.

The aim is to establish Community Project Teams to own the groups of ideas in each category and run with them from design through to implementation. It will be up to the teams to determine which individual ideas will be in their scope, though the focus should be on ideas which received the most votes.

Improved parking in the town centre attracted a large number of votes, as did a pedestrian crossing in the main street. In other categories, examples of ideas attracting lots of votes include: Roads – Improve roads/road maintenance; Social Infrastructure – preservation of the school kitchen garden and establishment of a new fire station; Council – hard rubbish collection; Recreation – upgrade skateboard park and continue rail trail to Toora/Yarram; Environment – clean up weeds at Stockyard Creek.

After Dawn’s presentation of the plan, Barbara Look from the Community Strengthening Team at South Gippsland Shire gave a shire perspective. She explained that community plans such as Foster’s are fed into the shire’s plans, so that councillors and shire officers know what the community wants. She said that for anyone requiring assistance she is happy to act as a conduit to the relevant officer or department at the shire.

Mohya Davies has been happy to be involved in the development of the community plan as both a South Gippsland Shire Councillor and a resident of Foster. Congratulating the Foster Community Association on producing the plan, she took the opportunity to announce that the association has a new secretary, Lyn Atkinson. Cr Davies added that there was already $40,000 set aside in this year’s shire budget for kerbing and channelling work but she hoped more could be spent on street improvements in Foster.

The community plan will be presented to Council at a briefing on November 16. The night before, next Tuesday November 15, the Foster Community Association will hold its regular monthly meeting (third Tuesday of each month) at 7.30pm at the Community Health Centre. Anyone is welcome to attend.

“Even if you can’t attend the meetings, you can input ideas by email to fostercomunityassociation@dcsi.net.au or post to PO Box 109, Foster, 3960, or contribute the annual membership of just $20,” said Larry Giddy. “I invite anyone who is interested in participating in a Community Project Team to help us realise our vision to please contact the Foster Community Association.”

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