Koonda Lat Pipe Bridge Crossing Merri Creek

Koonda Lat Pipe Bridge Crossing Merri Creek

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Darebin Council Elections and the Rucker Candidate Scorecard

Here come the Darebin Council elections, and not a moment too soon! In the wake of all the dodgy business with two of our three current Rucker councillors (Steven Tsitas and Oliver Walsh, not standing this election), it's more important than ever that we elect councillors committed to open, informed, ethical and responsible governance of local affairs as our representatives.

As with the last Council election, there are a group of "dummy" candidates channelling votes through to a lead candidate - Ash Verma appears to be a key recipient of these.

The Darebin Community Network have mapped preferences and consulted Rucker candidates on their key platforms for change in Darebin, in addition to extensive background checks on past performance and behaviour. This has been brought together into a super-helpful scorecard, provided below for your reference. Read it carefully, compare against the postal voting packs you'll receive next week in the mail, and be sure to vote for a candidate with integrity - State government is eyeing a compromised Darebin with great concern, and we urgently need people we can trust with our City's future if we are going to keep local affairs in local hands.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Drawing it out on Merri Creek Park Land

Feels like we're going nowhere fast on the future of the VicTrack land at Merri Creek - promising progress made towards establishing a peppercorn lease back in May has given way to the offer of a $500,000 sale, or a five-year lease at a nominal $300 a year.

While the $500,000 sticker price for the transfer of a piece of public land is pretty outrageous, we would hope Council can negotiate a mutually-satisfactory outcome with VicTrack. A long-term lease (five years? Seriously?!) seems sensible, we don't want to be back to square one in five years' time. This disrespects everybody's time and efforts in seeking resolution.

Cr Tsitas' label of 'dud land' is pretty harsh, even in the context of development. The proposed sale/lease affects not just this visible corner site, but also the bushland along the bridge and Merri Creek. As a gateway site to Darebin, we need to celebrate the land, and can do so much better than a liberal scattering of utility hydrants, eroding soils and a decrepit, non-functioning, drinking fountain memorial to a Northcote Councillor c. 1932. Could we bring this long-neglected site back to life with some restorative landscaping and amenity, please?

Darebin Council will be holding an election shortly, and we seek Councillors who will work productively with the State and help us set a progressive agenda for our local open space.

See recent developments in the 10 August 2016 edition of the Northcote Leader , reproduced here to keep the link active:

THE FATE of a hectare of land owned by VicTrack and used as a public park for decades is still up in the air. 
Darebin councillors last week voted to refuse offers to purchase the land at the banks of the Merri Creek for $500,000 or to lease it for five years at $300 a year. 
Councillors instead voted to continue advocating for the land – at the intersection of St Georges Rd and Merri Parade – to be permanently protected at no cost to the council. “This land is owned by Victorian taxpayers, and as a result why should the community pay twice for something that they already own?” Cr Gaetano Greco said. “As Darebin residents we already own this land via the State Government.” 
Cr Angela Villella labelled the sale of the land a “money grab” by VicTrack. 
Councillors in January voted to ask that the land be made a Crown Reserve, and that the council be made a Committee of Management for the site, allowing it to maintain the parkland without buying it. 
Community members fear the site could be sold for development if not protected. Merri Community Group convener Mike Flattley said the council and VicTrack needed to come to a compromise to protect the land without drawing out the process. “I support that we shouldn’t be spending an enormous amount of the City of Darebin’s budget on the transfer of land,” Mr Flattley said. 
“I think we need to look at something like a 90 to 100 year lease arrangement. A small lease, like the nominal amount of $300 a year, might be a way of keeping everybody happy as long as we’re looking at a longer timescale so we’re not wasting everyone’s time again in five years.” 
Cr Steven Tsitas rubbished suggestions the land could be sold to developers, claiming no developer could build on the “dud land”.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Green Light for Rushall Reserve Bike Path

Looks like the bike path is going ahead - see the City of Yarra's page at http://yarraconversation.com.au/rushallreservedesign for further information.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Merri Parklands Resolution and Progress on a Merri Parade Crossing

Advice from Rucker Councillor Trent McCarthy is that VicTrack and Darebin are settling on a form of peppercorn leasing arrangement for the land on the corner of St Georges Rd and Merri Parade. While it seems strange that this site, remote from rail corridors, continues to be owned by the state railway, this is good news. Hopefully the arrangement will allow Darebin to improve the presentation of this gateway site in the coming years as part of the re-landscaping of St Georges Rd, following the Melbourne Water infrastructure upgrades. So, with effusive gratitude to our representatives on Council and in State Parliament (Trent McCarthy, Steven Tsitas, Fiona Richardson - thank you), we can dial this one down to 'resolved.'

There's more encouraging news from Fiona Richardson's office on the Merri Street Crossing; Minister Luke Donnellan has responded to Fiona's representation on our behalf, advising VicRoads have acknowledged the protracted safety issues around the crossing from Union Street to the bike path and are keen to engage with Council on a safer crossing solution. It's likely this will be a refuge island, but I hold out some hopes for lights to assist motorists, cyclists and pedestrians alike, particularly with a major bike route needing to be redirected through the area while Melbourne Water does its thing on St George's Rd. Darebin Council have set aside some funding in the next financial year to assist with state road projects across the City, so hopefully this will be an early contender.

There's also an undertaking to upgrade the St George's Rd signage, warning large trucks not to enter Merri Parade and get trapped by the rail bridge. Hopefully this will help reduce the general carnage!

We'll advise once all this is nailed down, but for now, this is positive progress. Thanks to everyone in various levels of government, statutory bodies and community for lending your support to a remarkably complex local issue, which we hope to see resolved very soon.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Rushall Reserve: On-site consultation

Locals met with (brave) officers from Yarra Council on the proposed shared path to connect Rushall Station with Koonda Lat bike bridge and the Capital City Trail. There were difficult conversations amid a divided group on a divisive issue.

For more info, see the Yarra consultation page at http://yarraconversation.com.au/rushallreservedesign , plus community pages for and against: https://sharerushallreserve.wordpress.com and https://www.change.org/p/yarra-city-council-keep-rushall-reserve-free-from-development/u/13459284

Friday, May 6, 2016

Rushall Reserve Bike Path, Merri Parade, Merri Creek Parklands

The hot-button issue of the moment appears to be the City of Yarra's proposed connection of the Capital City Trail shared pedestrian and bicycle path through Rushall Reserve, from Rushall Station down to Koonda Lat bike bridge. From the extensive signage that's popped up in North Fitzroy, it's clear many locals are upset about the increased activity on site, while others are equally keen to see the project go ahead as a long-awaited local connector along the Creek's green corridor.

The proposed plan includes floating sections to avoid the roots of established trees, and a safety fence to separate the rest of the reserve from the shared path: the full size plan is available for viewing here,
Whichever way you lean, it's important to inform yourself and make your opinion known to the City of Yarra. The current plan is available to view online here, and the "Yarra Conversation" page invites you to submit your view online: http://yarraconversation.com.au/rushallreservedesign .

Importantly, there is a consultation meeting with Council Officers tomorrow morning (Saturday, 7 May) from 10am to 12pm, on site at Rushall Reserve. There are already demarcation lines helpfully painted along the grassy embankment demonstrating where the proposed path will run: I suggest everyone concerned visits the Rushall Reserve for a good look, then comes along to provide input tomorrow.

Merri Parade Crossing

Delighted to advise we've had some very welcome advocacy from Rucker Councillors Steven Tsitas and Trent McCarthy for the proposed pedestrian and bicycle crossing from the Kunda Lat Bridge path, across Merri Parade to Union St, Northcote and on to Darebin's "shimmy route" for local cyclists. We're advised all Darebin councillors have consequently supported a motion to establish a fund to stimulate State road projects and improve the amenity of neighbourhoods across the City of Darebin in the draft 2016-17 budget. If this makes it into the final budget, then Darebin will have some incentive funding to offer to VicRoads to assist with prioritising projects such as the Merri Parade crossing. We're sitting tight for now, but hope to report some positive progress from these developments very soon.

Merri Creek Parkland

The office of Member for Northcote, Fiona Richardson MP advise us that VicTrack and Council are continuing their talks about how the land adjacent to St George's Road and Merri Parade will be owned, governed, leased and so forth. Nothing revelatory to report as yet, so again, we will sit tight and await developments.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Terrific Support from Fiona Richardson PLUS 40km Speed Limits!

A good news post!

Very pleased to advise we've had some welcome assistance from Fiona Richardson MP, Member for Northcote with a couple of local issues. Tanya Wolkenberg, Christos Symeonides and I met with Fiona's  team last Friday to check in on progress and discuss next steps.

First, the Merri Creek Parkland: Fiona's office has earlier confirmed this will no longer be sold privately, which is a relief. Darebin Council and VicTrack continue discussion on the nature of either a sale/transfer or leasing arrangements; no further information available at this time, so nothing revelatory here.

Second, Fiona has provided terrific support for our request to secure a safe crossing over Merri Parade to the parklands, bike path and the Kunda Lat Bike Bridge beyond. She's also raised the issue of large trucks (still) entering Merri Parade to encounter the low rail bridge and performing calamitous turns through parkland or down narrow South Park Street. This follows Fiona's earlier advocacy for having the bike bridge built and installing sequenced traffic lights at the intersection of Merri Parade with St George's Rd, formerly the "roundabout of doom." We've been advised to sit tight and wait on a response from Minister Donnellan and VicRoads, who are aware of these issues through earlier discussion with residents.

Fiona's letter is online here for your reference, with our grateful thanks for the terrific representation (also to Fiona's helpful staff Michael Berthelson and Marion Dormer).

You will also have seen that Council is considering setting a 40km speed limit in our residential streets. This is fantastic news and follows our group's unanimous request to Darebin's traffic engineers at a big meeting convened by Cr Trent McCarthy a few years ago (2010!), so please do offer this welcome initiative your support.

The short survey tool for feedback is at http://surveys.darebin.vic.gov.au/s3/Northcote40km - calming traffic in our streets is very welcome, particular for all the kids, dogs and daydreamers hereabouts!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Jessi and Jennifer Hit the Bigtime

Great to see our erstwhile Bridge St neighbours Jessi and Jennifer hitting the big time in New York! Sad to see you go, but success is a fine consolation, congratulations both.


Progress for the Merri Creek Parkland

The good news from staff in Fiona Richardson's office yesterday is that private sale/development of the land is off the cards again - however, VicTrack still seek a sale to our Council and it's still important to sign the petition supporting the transfer of land back to the crown to remain as locally-managed parkland. We hope to see this matter resolved very soon.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

"Park's Fate Discussed"

From the article posted today in the Northcote Leader. Thanks to all who came along for the photo - remember, the petition is online at https://www.change.org/p/jacinta-allan-protect-the-merri-creek-parkland 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Petition: Protect the Merri Creek Parkland

Our petition to Ministers Allan, Neville and Richardson is now online - please sign to add your voice to the call to preserve the integrity of this open space, parkland and wilderness reserve.  https://www.change.org/p/jacinta-allan-protect-the-merri-creek-parkland 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

VicTrack Sale of Merri Creek Parkland - Northcote Leader Photo

Hi again (already),

The Northcote Leader are now running a piece on this and would like to get a photo of the locals on site this Friday at 10.30am - grateful if you could factor this in to your morning! Please come along, same place, corner of St George's Rd and Merri Parade.



Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Proposed Sale of Merri Creek parkland by VicTrack: Channel Nine News item

A big thanks to everyone who came along to make their voice heard last month - many will have seen the subsequent news item that aired on New Year's Eve, but for those who missed it, here's the link: http://www.9news.com.au/national/2016/01/01/12/35/victorian-government-s-desperate-bid-to-save-land-from-developers

No further news as yet, but we'll certainly keep you posted.