RESIDENTS of the hilltop district of Dollar turned out in force to a public presentation session at South Gippsland Shire Council chambers last Wednesday to make their views known to Council in no uncertain terms.
At issue was the state of the Dollar Road, branded “appalling” by the residents. They also took Council to task over its tardiness in repairing dangerous landslips on the Foster-Mirboo Road and other roads in the area.
So they were delighted to be told that Council is setting aside $285,000 in the 2012/2013 budget for repairs to the Dollar Road, although concerns remain that action needs to be taken within days or weeks rather than months.
Presentations on both roads and the pressing need for repairs to them were made to Council by Dollar residents Graeme Dyke and John Wilson. Their arguments were strongly supported by accompanying videos and some quite alarming photographs – and, in particular, by the large contingent – more than a dozen – of Dollar residents who filled several rows of the gallery and applauded their presentations heartily.
Graeme Dyke made his presentation under the misapprehension that the draft 2012/2013 shire budget does not address repairs to the section of Dollar Road which requires them most. “The section of Dollar Road that needs urgent attention and funding is from the end of the bitumen at Ashdale property gate number 725 to property gate number 887, a distance of approximately 1.6kms,” he said, concerned that Council was instead going to repair a straight section of road down the hill that did not warrant an upgrade.
He showed a short video and several photographs to illustrate the poor state of the road – potholes, soft edges and steep drops on one side – and the dangers posed by the narrowest sections where there is insufficient space for two cars to pass and certainly not enough room for a car and a tanker. “These photos highlight the road to be dangerous, that it is poorly maintained and in need of serious recondition,” said Mr Dyke.
The shire’s infrastructure director, Anthony Seabrook, explained to ‘The Mirror’ later that Council had originally (in last year’s budget papers and annual plan) planned to spend money on a different section of Dollar Road – the straight section down on the flats closer to Dumbalk. However, in reviewing the matter, it has since been persuaded that the need is far greater on the gravel hilly section the residents are worried about.
Mr Seabrook said that Council is allocating $285,000 in the 2012/13 budget to repairs to three particularly dangerous corners in that 1.6km stretch of gravel road. He said that he was hopeful that the repairs would satisfy the residents and promised a written response – to be made public – to all the questions on the matter raised by Mr Dyke on behalf of the Dollar residents.
As part of his presentation, Mr Dyke tabled a quotation the Dollar Residents Improvement Association had been given for earthworks on the 1.6km stretch of Dollar Road by Cameron Goldsmith of Goldsmith Civil and Environmental. This indicated a cost of $225,000 plus GST. Mr Seabrook said that he would be having discussions with Goldsmith Civil and Environmental, including clarifying the parameters of their quote.
John Wilson’s presentation focused on the many landslips in the Dollar area, eight by his calculations, three of which he considers to be dangerous.
Like Mr Dyke, he had a long list of questions for Council, which Mayor Warren Raabe promised him would be answered in writing. Cr Raabe told him on the spot that the weather had played a huge part in delaying the repair of landslips, and this was later confirmed by Mr Seabrook. He told ‘The Mirror’ that only about $2 million of the estimated $4.5 million allocated to repair landslips on shire roads had been spent because weather conditions had not allowed contractors to proceed with the work. “We hope to spend the rest by the end of the next construction season, weather permitting,” he said, conceding that a major landslip at Turtons Creek still needs work and there was still work to be done on the Foster-Mirboo Road.
Mr Seabrook said the shire has road inspectors out regularly, but Council will be reviewing the inspection regime. He invited people with concerns about specific areas of road to ring the shire depot hotline, tel. 5662 9111.
Dollar resident Margaret Roach said the shire should be making repairs to the roads around Dollar as a matter of urgency. “The Dollar Road is bare clay in some places and very slippery. There is an urgent need for the road to be graded and truckloads of rock put in place. At the very least they should put warning signs in place,” she said.
Ms Roach, who is the secretary of the Dollar Residents Improvement Association, said the association will be holding a meeting at Dollar at 2pm this Friday afternoon and has invited SGSC representatives, including the chief executive officer Tim Tamlin and shire councillors. “They need to get up here to look for themselves!” she said.