IT WILL be hard for South Gippsland Shire Council to ignore the desires of Sandy Point’s lively community as for the second monthly presentation session in succession, community representatives have outlined plans and sought Council support.
At last Wednesday’s session, Diane Casbolt and Neil Shaw made separate presentations to South Gippsland Shire while watched by supporters in the public gallery.
Diane explained that after a fundraising effort which accumulated $1,700 and associated petition in 2008 organised by some young Sandy Point residents, Sandy Point Community Group had spent the interim asking both the Department of Sustainability and Environment and Council about the possibility of using one of a several of possible sites on public land around the town for the development of practice cricket nets.
Other recreational improvements such as a skate park and basketball practice area were also requested.
She explained that Sandy Point did not have much for young people to do and noted that besides local youth (including Fish Creek Cricket Club members) as well as a large influx of youth during the holiday season would enjoy using such facilities.
However the amount of vacant flat open space in the town was quite limited and the Community Group had been frustrated because each request for site use had been knocked back by the relevant land manager.
The Community Group was now requesting that Council put aside a budget allowance for development of cricket nets at Ash Avenue Park and to undertake a feasibility study for a youth sports facility at the former transfer station site.
In the event that Ash Avenue Park could not be considered suitable for a more active recreational purpose, Council’s help in encouraging DSE to allow the cricket nets to be built on an alternative site by the Manuka to Shallow Inlet trail would also be appreciated.
Over recent years, communities such as Welshpool, Toora and Foster have pursued funding for feasibility studies for specific recreational developments by means of the relevant community group making applications to Council’s community grants program and for Regional Development Victoria funding.
No doubt with this in mind, Cr Kieran Kennedy responded to Diane’s presentation by suggesting a meeting between Coastal Promontory Ward Councillors, the project supporters (including young residents) and Council’s Recreation Coordinator Ian Murphy.
Cr Kennedy suggested the purpose of the meeting would be “to see what is most feasible and to chase community grants for a feasibility study.”
Mayor Cr. Warren Raabe noted that a feasibility study for a youth recreational area at the former transfer station could include options for a path and lighting to ensure safe access from the town.
Diane also asked Council to plant koala food trees between Sandy Pint and Waratah Bay and to replace dead trees in parks and streets with species useful for koalas.
The reason for the request was to boost the area’s koala population, koala safety, and genetic diversity as habitat isolation, traffic accidents, dog attacks and vegetation removal were endangering the town’s koalas, which were beloved by residents and tourists.
Assistance was also asked to support koala counts.
Diane pointed to the attraction of a 70-strong audience to a recent talk in Sandy Point by a wildlife rescue volunteer specialising in koala rehabilitation as indicating widespread community support for maintaining koala viability at Sandy Point.
WIND FESTIVAL DATE
Neil Shaw explained to Council about the recent formation of a Tourism sub-committee under the auspice of Sandy Point Community Group and informed Council that the Melbourne Cup weekend had been selected as the date for the inaugural Sandy Point Wind Festival.
(The Festival proposal was outlined in The Mirror May 18 page 25).
He asked Council for an event grant to help contribute towards the estimated total cost of $4,500 on the grounds that the festival would assist with visitation and business for a wider area and that business sponsorship from Sandy Point itself would be limited.
Dr. Shaw said that the sub-committee had already forged practical links with the business Sailboard HQ and the organisation Windsurfing Victoria in holding the festival.
The idea of both the sub-committee and the festival was enthusiastically received by Council, with Cr Kennedy getting it as “a really great initiative to pursue tourism” and Mayor Cr Warren Raabe exclaiming “I love the concept!”
Cr Kennedy recommended that the sub-committee arrange to meet with Council’s Grants Officer Penni Ellicott to see if it would be possible to obtain community grants events funding in time for the Wind Festival.