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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Leave Beacon Point alone ... almost

Close neighbours of the Beacon Point Reserve in Clifton Springs want it left just as it is ... apart from some improvements.

On 28 March, around twenty people met at Drysdale's SpringDale Neighbourhood Centre to discuss a proposed Master Plan for the Reserve. The meeting was called by the City of Greater Geelong's Recreation and Open Space Unit and by Thompson Berrill Landscape Design, engaged by CoGG as consultants to create the Master Plan.

Many of the people attending the meeting were members of the Beacon Point Friends - a group that emerged from a DCSCA Public Meeting in 2010. Everyone said that they like the Reserve's peace and tranquility and the opportunities it offers for 'passive recreation' such as walking (with or without a dog!), kite flying or just taking-in the panoramic view. Some improvements were suggested, ranging in scale from more frequent mowing, through planting some trees for shade, providing steps down to the foreshore, through to building a toilet block.

Caught in a bind
As the residents suggested improvements, it soon became apparent that they were caught in a bind: improving the Reserve will increase its attractiveness, prompting increased use and, perhaps, reducing the peace and tranquility which residents value so much and want to retain. Something as minor as countering the current infestation of blanket weed by, for example, mowing more frequently and/or re-seeding with grass will make the area safer to walk on - especially for people unsteady on their feet - attracting more people to walk there.

Even leaving the Reserve as it is won't prevent it from attracting more visitors, because the number of open spaces in Clifton Springs and Drysdale is reducing, as the council rezones one after another to allow still more housing. As several people at the meeting stressed, the Beacon Point Reserve is now the only major public open space left in Clifton Springs. As rezoning proceeds, each remaining open space increases in value - both economic and social.

As an illustration: in 2010, DCSCA supported residents in the Spring Street area of Clifton Springs in their successful fight to prevent the council turning their open public space into a housing estate. At the time, ward councillor John Doull said that the council estimated that the land in question was worth more than a million dollars, so the council didn't want to see it 'locked up' as Open Space for community use.

Keep our open spaces
The Beacon Point Reserve is part of DCSCA's Open Spaces Network - a program to preserve and enhance open spaces in Drysdale & Clifton Springs, protected from development, each with its own ‘Friends’ group and all linked by a network of cycling/walking trails.

The creation of the Beacon Point Reserve Master Plan is already late. On 4 August 2011, ward councillor John Doull told DCSCA that the Master Plan would be completed by December 2011 and that in his view, the Reserve should be essentially an open space with minimal ‘infrastructure’ (e.g., a toilet block, a BBQ) and, perhaps, a discrete ‘artistic/sculptural’ element.

The meeting at SpringDale heard that a Draft Plan will be presented to a second consultation meeting for comment, before being submitted to the council for approval and then made available for comment by the broader community.

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