MEENIYAN Community Plan and Poowong Community Plan were presented to South Gippsland Shire Council at a public briefing session last Wednesday and were accompanied by sharply contrasting perceptions from their respective community advocates John Cocking of Meeniyan Progress Association and Heather Gregg of Poowong Community Consultative Committee.
Mr. Cocking was most enthusiastic about the benefits of the plan, its development process and Council’s support throughout.
He joked about the importance of food and beverages at the plan’s meetings and workshops, praised the skills of local parent Sarah Janssen in stimulating and leading youth involvement in the playground and skate park project, and expressed gratitude to Council Community Strengthening staff Barbara Look, John Ernst and Marzia Maurilli for their practical support.
The priority projects being advanced by a number of community teams cover traffic management and road safety, a community bank, a retirement village, a recreation vehicle camping area with dumping station, playground and skate park, ongoing hall improvements, and wetlands at Stony Creek.
Visible support for Mr. Cocking’s presentation was on show in the public gallery with the attendance of several Meeniyan residents.
In contrast, Ms Gregg was most unhappy that the Poowong Structure Plan (intended to become part of the planning scheme) had not progressed in tandem with the Community Plan as had been expected and described the structure plan as being “still by the wayside.”
With Poowong community’s identified projects including the development of a joint use community centre and library, Ms Gregg was also upset that Council had recently agreed to a mobile library service being trialed in Poowong by West Gippsland Regional Library Service on alternating Saturdays and the existing static library, which among various problems has suffered water inundation, was apparently being closed.
She referred to a “list of grievances” including an amount of dispute or misunderstanding as to how much work towards the community’s projects would be undertaken by Council staff and how much by community teams.
While thanking Council for including Poowong as one of the first settlements to have a community plan developed, Ms Gregg stated that in her personal opinion, “the jury was still out” on whether or not the community plan was beneficial.
She cheered up significantly when at the suggestion of Cr Warren Raabe, a future meeting was arranged between Poowong community and all Councillors, not just the Ward Councillors, to work on resolution of problems.
“It should stop things going off even more half-cocked,” Ms Gregg opined.
Giving another view on the process, Cr Jennie Deane commented that with 40 people becoming involved in the Poowong Community Plan process, there had been “good representation and involvement” and “new people had been brought into community planning who were passionate and enthusiastic about taking the projects forward.”
In addition to a community hub and library, Poowong’s priorities and action plans include expanded use of the swimming pool, development of a network of footpaths and bicycle paths, creation of a community park and a recreation reserve, installation of a 24-hour access defibrillator, establishment of a service station (possibly as a community cooperative fuel outlet) and development of the former primary school site.
Both Meeniyan Community Plan and Poowong Community Plan can be viewed online at Council’s web site, www.southgippsland.vic.gov.au, by selecting the link to A-Z index and then the respective further links to “Meeniyan” and ‘Poowong’ and then the plans themselves.