Koonda Lat Pipe Bridge Crossing Merri Creek

Koonda Lat Pipe Bridge Crossing Merri Creek

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Vale Dot McNamara

So sad to see Dot McNamara pass away earlier this week and, with her, the closure of one of the few remaining shops in our neighbourhood.  A chat or two with our saddened neighbours reveals Dot's store on Charles Street was established in the 1920s by her parents, who operated a Dye Works out the back.  Dot went to school at St Joseph's up the hill and is one of many of our older generation who have spent their entire lives in the neighbourhood - many, like Dot, were apparently born in houses on our streets.  They have lived through a lot of change.

When an institution like Dot moves on, many start to recount their memories and knowledge of the Merri precinct's history and character.  Many of us have photos of what the place looked like over a long period; the houses, shops, the people and the stories that go with them.  It would be great to get all this down in some form or other before we lose a connection to our colourful past forever.

Howard Bolton, who operates the bookstore opposite Dot's shop, is calling for expressions of interest in having a memorial plaque created and mounted in tribute to her life and connection to our community history.  Please drop in to Howard's shop on the corner of Charles and Park Streets to let him know if you're interested - Saturday morning is probably the best time.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Merri Parade: What on Earth is going on with Councillor Tsitas?

Okay - as many will be aware, Darebin's Council officers took a good look at this proposal and pretty much shot it out of the water in their report to a meeting of Council earlier this week:
"Based on the issues described in previous sections, it is expected that the benefits to the community obtained from the investment on the road expansion are extremely limited. Road widening could only generate benefits to those who drive regularly on Merri Parade. As previously discussed, any benefits to these people would quickly dissolve as yet more traffic uses Merri Parade, resulting in the same level of congestion as currently exists, but an additional lane of it. A large proportion of the drivers using Merri Parade are assumed to be through traffic from north of Darebin.
In terms of a benefit cost ratio (BCR) (that is, value for money), a project like this would score very poorly, in contrast to a public transport improvement project, or even a cycling improvement project.
Studies show that high-quality, time-competitive public transport tends to attract travellers who would otherwise drive, which reduces congestion on parallel roads. Although public transport does not usually eliminate road congestion, it can significantly reduce congestion intensity on roads like Merri Parade."
 See the full report on page 44 of the meeting agenda online.

So that was pretty good.  However, the Mayor then tabled a counter-proposal as follows:

My Merri Hiiiiiiiigggghwaaaaaaayyyy
I have no idea why Cr Tsitas is so obsessed with Merri Parade.  Not only is this contrary to expert advice, all it does is claim parkland for roadspace with no increase to capacity for either cars or bikes, compromising the quality and safety of the separate bike path, and preventing residents  from accessing their local streets when returning from the south-east.  The divided road would either divert all north-westbound local traffic through McLaughlin and Barry Streets to follow a ridiculously circuitous route through the labyrinthine chicanes of Westgarth, or force residents to drive up to St George's Rd, take a u-turn at Northcote High School, and return to the neighbourhood with south-eastbound traffic.  Nuts. All we want is a safe pedestrian crossing point to the creek and bikepath, preferably at the end of Union Street where visibility is poor.

Anyway, Council apparently approved the motion to approach VicRoads with this recommendation, except Crs. Tim Laurence and Trent McCarthy.  Also, there will be some form of community consultation!

There is another agenda we aren't seeing here.  It suggests a kind of incrementalism, whereby the road is first (pointlessly) widened without increasing capacity, providing scope for further lanes to be added at an undisclosed point in the future.  There is no obvious benefit to anyone from pursuing this incredible waste of Council resources and residents' time.  So the motivation for this dogged pursuit of widening Merri Parade has me quite concerned.