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Friday, May 25, 2012

Police withdraw from growing local towns

Bellarine towns will lose police cover under new rosters!

Geelong Advertiser journalist Andrea Hamblin reports that, 'Fewer police will be rostered on in Queenscliff, Portarlington, Drysdale and Ocean Grove during days, with members eventually used to make up a 24-hour patrol. But there are no plans for extra police numbers to help to deal with the increased workload on the peninsula.' ('Coast cops called away' Geelong Advertiser 25 May)

The report continues, 'A Geelong Advertiser investigation has found coastal police are already regularly called to bolster numbers elsewhere, most recently last Saturday night, when the peninsula was left without on-duty police for about five hours.'

'Even worse than we thought'
The removal of police cover is bad news for the whole of the Bellarine, but it's especially worrying for Drysdale and Ocean Grove, each of which will see their populations expand significantly in the next couple of years.

In Drysdale, work is well advanced on the massive new estates in Stage One of Drysdale's Jetty Road development (1,500 lots, around 6,000 people); and work will start soon on the planned Central Walk estate near Drysdale's town centre. However, not only will there will be no additional emergency services cover (fire brigade, ambulance and, of course, police) for these additional people - even the existing cover is being withdrawn on occasions!

Planning authorities have dismissed locals' long standing concern about increased emergency services to match the increased population. Three years ago, objectors to a planning proposal (C152) to rezone the Jetty Road land expressed concern that the Jetty Road estates would not see additional emergency services cover. The City of Greater Geelong and a state Planning Panel dismissed their concerns, stating that they were outside the remit of the planning system.

Today, people in Drysdale have found that the situation is even worse than they thought. Not only will the massive expansion in the town's population see no additional police, but even the existing police are being withdrawn to bolster cover elsewhere in Geelong.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

'Greening' The Dell

Dell Lookout - ready for revegetation
DCSCA has created a group of organisations to plan and execute the re-vegetation of the area around The Dell's new Lookout.

The revegetation project is financed by a $15,000 grant from the Commonwealth Government through its Caring for our Country Community Action Grants program. Among the organizations in the group are the Bellarine Catchment Network, Bellarine Landcare, City of Greater Geelong, Dept. of Sustainability and Environment and Springdale Neighbourhood Centre. The revegetation project will complement the new signage that was installed at The Dell in 2011. DCSCA participated actively in designing the signage and its revegetation project will make the area even more attractive for locals and visitors.

Promoting community involvement
DCSCA wants the revegetation project to involve local people as much as possible and the project group is currently planning a Community Involvement Day on June 22 2012. This event will introduce around 130 students from the Drysdale Primary School and the Clifton Springs Primary School to environmental stewardship and sustainability. It will run at The Dell between 9.30 am and 12.40 pm, followed by a barbeque lunch provided by the local Lions club.

Participants in the event will take part in five 30-minute activities:
•    Marine interpretation, including a rock pool ramble
•    Flora interpretation, including a 'weed or wanted' challenge
•    Cultural interpretation, introducing students to The Dell's many and varied uses over time by different cultures
•    Environmental challenge course, which encourages 'learning by doing'
•    Plant propagation, when each student will take away an indigenous plant to grow at home or at school.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Drysdale bypass - a new heartbeat for the North Bellarine!

As part of its campaign for a Drysdale bypass, the Drysdale & Clifton Springs Community Association (DCSCA) held a successful public meeting on May 2 at SpringDale Neighbourhood Centre.

The proposed Drysdale bypass will, effectively, run between the Jetty Road roundabout and the Geelong-Portarlington Road at its junction with Whitcombes Road, but speakers at the meeting emphasised that far more people than just Drysdale residents will benefit from a Drysdale bypass. (Click on the map to enlarge it.) The population of the north Bellarine is set to increase enormously, yet no major roads are planned to accommodate the increased traffic. The resulting traffic congestion in Drysdale will lengthen people's travelling time from Portarlington, St. Leonards and Indented Head to Geelong and Melbourne; and it will also make the proposed Portarlington to Melbourne ferry a far less attractive option for commuters from Geelong. DCSCA is seeking support for the bypass campaign from community associations in other Bellarine towns and DCSCA President Doug Carson told the meeting that the St. Leonards Community Association has expressed its support already for the campaign.

Counting vehicles
Vic Roads would be responsible for building the Drysdale bypass and the Victorian state government will be responsible for the bill! Vic Roads already owns about 50% of the land on which it would build the Drysdale bypass and it monitors traffic in Drysdale regularly. Vic Roads have stated that the traffic capacity of Drysdale High Street is 24,000 vehicles a day - at which point a bypass becomes a necessity in their view. In mid-2011, Vic Roads found that 18,000 vehicles a day use the High Street.

In other words, a year ago, the traffic flow through Drysdale was 2/3 of the 'tipping point' for a bypass. Since then, the local population has increased, as it will continue to. The first of the 1,500 houses in Stage One of the Jetty Road Growth Area (just north of the Jetty Road roundabout) have started to appear; with more new houses to follow in the 300-lot Central Walk estate (just south of Murradoc Road). At this rate of population growth, if work on the bypass started today, it would probably be completed just as the population reached the Vic Roads 'tipping point' of 24,000 vehicles a day using Drysdale High Street.

The current planned route of the bypass was drawn up before the massive increase in local population and some people at the meeting were concerned that the current route may pose traffic risks to local residents, to the schools off Andersons Road and to people attending the proposed sports/recreation precinct in Grubb Road. There was also concern about potential traffic noise and it was suggested that at least part of the bypass could be set into a cutting to reduce noise. Finally, there was agreement that rather than creating just a two-lane road suitable for trucks, Vic Roads should build a freeway-style bypass along the lines of the Geelong Ring Road.

A bigger picture
The meeting heard that a Drysdale bypass is part of a broader vision of economic development in the north Bellarine. At the heart of the vision is a new light industrial precinct in Murradoc Road, offering a diversity of business and employment opportunities. The proposed bypass will cross Murradoc Road at its eastern end near Clarendon Road, creating excellent road access into and out of the precinct.

The light industrial precinct would be created in three stages:
1. Open up the area north of Murradoc Road for development by creating new access roads into it; and realign the roundabout at Murradoc's western end to make it less 'tight' for large trucks that currently risk tipping over.
2. Extend the existing 'business/industrial' zoning at Murradoc Road's western end eastwards to Clarendon Road
3. Create tree-lined service roads on the north and south verges of Murradoc Road to offer delivery easier access. These service roads could also feature outdoor dining and performance spaces which, with imaginative lighting and shelters, would make the area much more attractive to pedestrians and effectively extend the centre of Drysdale eastwards.

The broad ideas behind the light industrial precinct emerged from a two-day workshop held at SpringDale in December 2011 at which local people discussed various options for redesigning Drysdale's town centre with council officers, architects and planning experts. (See 'A new future for central Drysdale?" [14 December 2011] on this blog.)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Bypass campaign not short on advice!

Local politicians have been generous with their advice to DCSCA about the campaign for a Drysdale bypass.

DCSCA Committee members met recently with  Mr. Richard Marles MP (federal, Corio), Cr. Rod Macdonald (Cheetham Ward) and Cr. John Doull (Coryule Ward) to ask for their advice about how best to campign for the bypass. Each of them had helpful suggestions, that we've distilled into a 'campaign manual' with three major sections.

•    The campaign should have the next state election (November 2014) as its focus, because the state government will pay (via Vic Roads) for a bypass.
•    Highlight the 'negative' reasons for a bypass, including local concerns about existing traffic hazards (N.B. the run-down in traffic associated with the nearby quarry means that there should be no overall increase in truck numbers going through Drysdale) and the likely increase in traffic hazards with increasing local population.
•    Highlight the 'positive' reasons for a bypass, including the potential social, economic & environmental benefits to the town and the easier access to a Portarlington ferry.

•    Be patient! It could take years to create the complete bypass.
•    Do the research! Collect evidence about current traffic flows through central Drysdale from (e.g.) Vic Roads and CoGG; ensure that this evidence is updated regularly; and commission projected traffic flows to match the area's planned population increases.
•    Show that it's feasible. Commission a 'draft project plan' from a local engineer and then ask a reputable engineering firm to endorse it.
•    Don't 'go for broke'. Break-up the bypass into sections that are cheaper and easier to manage than the whole bypass; be prepared to campaign for one section at a time (which sets a precedent for the bypass as a whole) - perhaps concentrating on the land that Vic Roads has bought already
•    Use the local media, social networking media and occasional 'stalls' in shopping centres (not just in Drysdale) to generate local interest in both the 'negatives' and the 'positives' and to invite people to participate (in some way - see below) in the campaign.

•    State politicians. The state will pay for the bypass. Concentrate on the sitting member (Ms Lisa Neville) and likely candidates for the seat of Bellarine; but ensure that all state politicians are aware of the issue. N.B. There's never a guarantee that a sitting member will be re-elected, so keep all options open.
•    Local councillors. Lobby them to pressure state politicians - in particular, showing how the bypass fits-in with broader local transport strategies.
•    Local tourism associations. Explain to them how a bypass will increase the north Bellarine's attractiveness as a destination by improving traffic flow and 'releasing' Drysdale town centre for more leisurely movement. Encourage each one to contact councillors and state politicians.
•    Local businesses. Explain to them how a bypass can benefit them (be specific) and encourage each one to contact councillors and state politicians.
•    Local community and recreational groups. Explain to them how a bypass can benefit them (be specific - e.g. easier access to local events) and encourage each one to contact councillors and state politicians.
•    Local schools. Explain to them how a bypass can benefit them (again, be specific - e.g. safety) and encourage each one to contact councillors and state politicians.
•    Local residents. Explain to them how a bypass can benefit them (the closer to town they live, the more specific the benefits will be) and encourage each one to contact councillors and state politicians.

This is just the first draft of our 'campaign manual'. It will grow and change as more people join the campaign and bring more ideas with them.  drycliftdays readers are warmly invited to join in by commenting on this post.