A NEW rotunda as the centrepiece of Welshpool Park, vegetable gardens, and a repaired seawall at Port Welshpool are among many projects identified by local people in the soon-to-be-launched Welshpool and District Community Plan 2023.
Other notions include a history board on the platform of the former Welshpool railway station, a free Wi Fi zone in Welshpool, more public seating along Port Welshpool’s beachfront.
Welshpool and District Advisory Group secretary Madelaine Mason said the Community Plan was being developed by a sub-committee of the Group, known as the Welshpool Area Future Focus Group.
“The process of forming the list of projects began last year when the Focus Group put it out to the community to ‘have your say’, and the community came back with a whole heap of ideas,” she said.
“We presented our proposal to create such a Plan to the community at the Welshpool Rural Transaction Centre in August 2022, which allowed us to have it up on display and open to suggestions for a couple of weeks.
“That way, people had plenty of time to call in at the RTC to see what viewpoints others had made or if they had thought of something they wanted to contribute themselves, rather than only an hour or two if we’d had a public meeting instead.
“Since then, the Focus Group has been looking at the ideas and we thought it was best to keep them all and to use them as the basis of the Community Plan,” Madelaine said.
“Some of the ideas received a lot of support from the community, with replacing the rotunda in Welshpool Park emerging as the primary project, followed by community vegetable gardens in Welshpool and Port Welshpool.
“Now that the Welshpool to Alberton section of the Great Southern Rail Trail is almost finished, soon there will be more walkers, cyclists and horse-riders coming to and through Welshpool, which is also the turning point to the Port Welshpool Rail Trail,” she said.
“The present rotunda is at least 50 years old and is no longer in a good state, even though it is shown on Google Maps as a ‘Visitor Information Centre’.
“The number of people using Welshpool Park will grow when the GSRT extension opens, and the Focus Group and the community agree that aiming for a new rotunda as an introduction to Welshpool and our bit of the GSRT is important,” Madelaine said.
“Other projects local people would like to see are a basketball court in Welshpool Park, and more signage along the Rail Trail to provide information to visitors and to tell some of Welshpool and Port Welshpool’s stories.
“The deteriorating condition of the seawall at Port Welshpool is another issue local people are concerned about, and Port Welshpool resident Keith Haycroft brought it to the attention of the Focus Group members with a series of photos he had taken,” she said.
“We understand that the South Gippsland Shire Council is currently working on its draft Coastal Strategy and that the Shire is only one of several entities with responsibility for structures in coastal reserves such as the Port Welshpool seawall.
“The community has made it clear to the Focus Group that it wants the seawall to be fixed and maintained for public safety and as a feature of the Lewis Street foreshore.
“The Focus Group knows that fishing is the Welshpool area’s greatest drawcard, and especially so for Port Welshpool.
“The Focus Group considers the Community Plan to be our vision, and everything in it has been gathered by and for our community,” Madelaine said.
“The Plan itself is pretty much finished and all we’re waiting for now before we release our seven-page document is further input from local community assets, like the Welshpool Memorial Hall, and the Arthur Sutherland Recreation Reserve.
“We’re nearly ready to research which projects we can make a start on, and we’ll be working out where to go and what to do to achieve the Welshpool district community’s goals,” she said.
“The Welshpool and District Community Plan 2023 is what we want and what we’re striving towards.”
A South Gippsland Shire Council spokesperson said that “there are currently no plans to remove the existing rotunda [in Welshpool Park].
“Although there have been discussions about the installation of a new shelter to support rail trail users, the project requires additional investigation and is currently unfunded,” the spokesperson said.
In regard to the Port Welshpool seawall, the Shire spokesperson said that “in the past, seawall repair in Port Welshpool has been undertaken as a collaborative effort between the Victorian Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA), Gippsland Ports and Council.
“Council has appointed a consultant to undertake an assessment of the seawall to determine what repairs are required,” the spokesperson said.
“Once the report is complete and repair costs are ascertained, Council will liaise with the other stakeholders to determine the next steps. It is likely that external funding would be required.”
Madelaine said, “the Welshpool Area Future Focus Group is excited for the Plan to be completed and to be able to make a start on some of the projects and achieve what the group and the community are looking towards for the area’s future.”