Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Report on "Wind Up" session

WRAP-UP PANEL SESSION
DISCUSSION NOTES - JUNE 14TH, 2015
Welshmans Reef Winery


Apologies: Angela Down, Peter Skilbeck, Margaret Harris

Chair: Clr. Michael Redden                 Attendance 25

Dr Dave Stratton thanked all presenters from the 10 Rocket Science Sessions held to discuss the top 10 Priorities from the Newstead Community Plan. Some presenters had travelled in their own time to share their expertise and stimulate ideas and discussion in Newstead .
This final Rocket Science Session had reports from 8 speakers.
  1. Horse - Railway Arts Hub
  2. Michael Redden - Pedestrian Footbridge and  10. Road Safety Issues
  3. Steve Propocsh - Skatepark/Playspace
  4. Jen Dyer - Newstead Walks & Wheels
  5. Flynn Hart - Street Trees
  6. Bronwyn Smith - Volunteers
  7. Business - Ron Snep
  8. Dave Stratton # 9. Ageing in My Place & #8. Planning Issues

Horse  # 1 Railway Arts Hub
Remarkable progress achieved due to combined efforts of Save the Station and Artists Hub. A committee now established. A lease signed between Victrack and Mt Alexander Shire Council with Newstead 2021 responsible for a sub-lease. The vision for an Arts Hub based on consultations with local artists is to share expertise with others, especially  children. A  huge concept contained within a small, now restored and renovated building at a cost of $500,000 by  a very supportive Victrack. The area under lease extends from the railway crossing south to next to the house. Newstead is fortunate in having a diverse population of talented creatives.
Now there is a need for those with expertise in business, admin, grant writing,  to become involved in specific tasks such as a Business Plan  to ensure the successful launch and ongoing operation of this grand vision
Contact Andrew Skeoch (cooee@listeningearth.com or Horse hihorse978@gmail.com
to become more involved.
Andrew Skeoch (President, Newstead 2021) provided an update, he now has 18 keys in his possession. The lease has been signed. Insurance paid. Ideas and expertise are needed to make the Arts Hub work. An opening event planned for late August will be an exhibition showcasing talents of all local creatives, not just artists.
Victrack will likely put out to commercial tender the lease for the large goods shed opposite the station. Currently privately leased, risk that it could be lost to the local community if efforts are not made to secure a lease until such time that the Arts Hub is in a position to further develop that structure which needs repair and maintenance, not currently suitable for public use.

Clr Michael Redden  # 2 Pedestrian Footbridge & #10 Road Safety
Ben Grounds, Council Infrastructure Manager, reported on the huge costs involved in a flood proof pedestrian footbridge across Loddon River at Canrobert St. end of levee bank. The August Rocket Science discussion, in response to concerns about the flood risk of developments in the flood plain, then switched to a pedestrian barrier rail on the southern side of the existing road bridge. Both Bridgewater and Carisbrook have similar barriers on their highway bridges.
The April 2015  Rocket Science session on Road Safety had 2 VicRoads reps in attendance who were persuaded to consider the benefits of a safety barrier to protect children on bikes from veering onto road into oncoming traffic as a priority over their fear of a truck crushing a pedestrian inside the barrier.
Council’s recent meeting (June 9th) tabled a letter from VicRoads refusing approval for a pedestrian railing on Loddon River Bridge on the basis that a footpath had to be wide enough for 2 wheelchairs to pass! Council would be responsible for costs of resurfacing of roadway across the  bridge. A motion to abandon all interest in a pedestrian barrier was deferred until Council meets with senior VicRoads staff present to follow through on proposals already discussed at April’s Rocket Science session with senior VicRoads staff in Newstead.
The 50km zone could be extended from the Loddon Bridge east to RTC end of CBD but the wired up school gate fronting Pyrenees Highway and reluctance of School Council to seal it off,  might mean the 40km school zone takes priority. Need for further discussion re a school crossing, and the extension of 50km zone to eastern side of Newstead township approach.
Safety is a real issue for children, elderly, visually impaired who currently risk a dangerous dash across often busy main street in centre of town. A low cost option is a Pedestrian Refuge (similar  to Hargreaves/Mostyn Street intersection in Castlemaine) with concrete barriers in centre of Pyrenees Highway (outside Dig and General Store &  Panmure Street intersection). A refuge that is well lit, would not take up excessive parking space and serve as a visual warning for through traffic to slow down.

Steve Proposch #3 Skatepark - Playspace
Aaron Wallis, the presenter from February  Rocket Science Session has been engaged to prepare a new plan that is really achievable and is at an exciting stage. Steve had a concept design on his laptop that will be made available for public comment. As a result of the Rocket Science Session the SkatePark Committee has new energy and new members with regular meetings. The old netball court site is still their preferred location.  A letter to be sent to Council confirming their interest in this site which Council has previously earmarked for expressions of Newstead community interest. The SkatePark concept is now seen as a perfect play space for all ages: shaded seating, a bocce court, space for exercise, a climbing wall fronting Canrobert St,  benches, low key areas for bike and skate tricks. The existing asphalt court will be used to save costs. Trees and plantings will create a relaxing area between Playspace and Historical Society buildings. (No mention of a toilet?)
Helen Watters called for a public display of the proposed Playspace with  opportunity for refinements, and  alterations to the design based on feedback comments. Disabled access for wheelchairs, prams integral to the design.

Jen Dyer #4 Walking Trails
A very active and busy working group formed as a result of Mayor Christine Henderson’s report on Mt Alexander Shire Council Walking & Cycling Strategy in the October, 2014 Rocket Science session. The group is at the investigative stage before accepting the invitation to discuss ideas with Council staff. Recent visit to inspect the walking tracks along the Loddon in Bridgewater, further assistance offered by Loddon Shire’s Community Planning Manager Tim Jenkins. “Newstead Walks & Wheels“ access for wheelchairs, prams, scooters and bicycles has researched aspects of the approvals process, which bodies  & key contacts need to be approached for access to land, heritage, fire risks, maintenance, signage, maps etc.
Routes under consideration include: Rotunda Park, Welshmans Reef  to Maldon via part of the Mia Mia Track to link up with the Maldon/Castlemaine Trail. Potential to cycle one way and return on the train; A Newstead Fitness Loop with timed walks; a Loddon River Walk  with distances marked;  Rotunda to town centre via Pines and levee bank avoiding traffic another potential walkway.
Cairn Curran approach is too far, but a walk from the Bridge to the river ford and along the levee bank is an option, picnic tables under bridge.
According to Clr. Redden the  designs are complete for the Castlemaine/ Maldon Trail but problems with active rail tracks and fire risk regulations have slowed progress.
The estimated $3million cost to build a Newstead Castlemaine link via Guildford along dangerous, unused rail tracks has precluded any consideration for now.  Instead, $150k was spent on recent bitumen footpaths in Newstead - Canrobert Street, along Panmure and outside school in Codrington and to Lyons Street frontages.  A feasibility study is still needed for Guildford route before the idea is abandoned completely.
Newstead Historical Society has offered support with brochures, Frances Cincotta has joined the group adding her expertise ( Landcare & Newstead Nature Walks.)
A Newstead representative is to be appointed to Council’s Walking Advisory Group now that Geoff Park has resigned.
Clr Redden reminded us that RTC makes small grants available to local groups in March and April which could assist this busy Newstead Walks & Wheels group. Larger grants with (more applications) available from Council -  Community Wellbeing $5000 and Environment $3000.
Soon, the group will be ready to raise questions and discuss their ideas with Council staff.
Clr. Redden is still pushing for the Levee Bank Report to be released, as expected, there is one section requiring repair, the sluice gates need replacement and a pump for emergencies required. It is not yet known which level of govt is responsible for funding.

Flynn Hart #5 Street Trees
Flynn was the presenter for the July 2014 Rocket Science Session, perhaps because no working group was set up there has been no progress on this important topic.
Flynn, a landscape architect, offered to help any Street Tree Committee formed with a strategy that is urgently needed for the next 10 years. Many of the trees in Newstead are already stressed and aged. Problems with Mount Alexander Shire, its lack of a clear policy, lack of funds is an issue that is likely to arise when other Community Plans are collated and common concerns identified.
Clr Redden mentioned Guildford citizens’ concern re the health and maintenance of their old elms and the lack of funds to plant fresh stock.
David Stratton  reminded us that Councils fear the ongoing costs they incur for tree plantings and maintenance. Local citizens feel frustrated that their willingness to plant and care for trees on their nature strips was not supported, despite the  clear benefits to future generations for the shade and amenity earlier plantings provide now. Community action, even guerrilla plantings of appropriate and varied resilient species, discussed as options until Council is prompted to take action and formulate a policy.
Clr Redden spoke of the remarkable tree study for Newstead compiled some years ago by Dawn Angliss & Joy ? A unique, color coded detailed resource that Council continues to overlook. Original Chart of Street Trees in Newstead is located at Newstead Historical Society.
Progressive councils recognise the multiple benefits of street tree planting, especially in heat mitigation & shading with prospects of hot dry summers in the future.

Bronwyn Smith #6 Volunteers
Bronwyn spoke in the absence of any volunteer willing to assume responsibility for actioning work on volunteer support in Newstead. The manager of Bendigo Volunteer Resource Centre, Helen Yorston, provided plenty of printed resources and valuable advice at the November Rocket Science session. These documents could be located at the RTC to form a useful library for local community groups - topics on recruitment, guides, preventing burnout, legal requirements etc.
SAVVI Skilled Adept Versed Volunteer Instructors - based in Bendigo Volunteer Resource Centre has a pool of retired professionals and experts willing to share, mentor both individual business startups and community groups in Newstead have local govt, accountants, IT experts with a network of contacts and support to call upon.
Over 55s unemployed to be encouraged to offer their 15 hours volunteer labour to local community groups under the Centrelink scheme.
A role exists now, for a volunteer with computer skills to maintain and update the databases for community groups and local businesses listed on the neglected  http://newstead.vic.au/  and collected by Dave & Bronwyn for Rocket Science planning.
RTC is to assume a co-ordinating role for transport volunteers offering services  needed by the frail, aged & isolated in Newstead - an outcome of May’s Ageing in Newstead Rocket Science Session. Now that these Rocket Science sessions discussing Priorities from Newstead Community Plan have concluded the real work of planning for implementation needs to begin. Volunteers perform a valuable role and there needs to be ongoing training, co-ordination of their efforts to ensure a Newstead wide approach to community development.

Ron Snep # 7 Business
Panelists outnumbered those present at the March 2015 Rocket Session yet a variety of businesses, from sole proprietors operating from home to larger concerns operate in Newstead. We need to promote the idea that good business is good for the community. If businesses work together they bring benefits to the whole community.
Business Mount Alexander is a networking group that Ron belongs to and recommends for other local business people.
The formation of a Newstead Foundation, a not-for-profit entity, that gives tax benefits to donors could become a source of much needed funding. A charter to fulfil, the foundation can accept donations from philanthropic orgs and former Newstead residents, that provides money for the benefit of the community.
Janet Trudgeon called for entries from local businesses for an annual Echo Insert on Businesses of all sizes operating in Newstead. Nil response from item on last page of June Echo, a shame. A small fee for a useful guide to local businesses, include logo, details and contacts - forms a database that would be included in a Welcome Pack for new and prospective residents .



David Stratton  # 9 Ageing & # 8 Planning
Ageing in My Place  May, 2015 Rocket Science Session that attracted the biggest and most enthusiastic crowd. Aim is to stay in Newstead and be able to downsize thus staying connected in a smaller, lower maintenance home.
Allie Dawe - contact person for issues relating to affordable accommodation, to form a working group.
Michael Redden RTC to co-ordinate transport issues. Role of technology and social media  to combat real problems of social isolation especially for the elderly.
Planning needs to be flexible and responsive to changing community needs. Trevor Budge led the first Rocket Science session which was to  set the scene of so many sessions. He asked us to list all that has happened in Newstead over past 20 years.         How much was planned? Commons - the places, we love and share, which parts of Newstead do we regard as our Commons?
Helen Watters called for us to identify our commons, to protect and value them by incorporating them into the still to be started Newstead Planning Study. A chance to redefine how Newstead should be and prevent it becoming an outer suburb of Castlemaine.
The final Rocket Science Session on Newstead Community Plan top 10 priorities was declared closed with real pride in what has been achieved so far. Progress made in some areas such as Arts Hub and Walking Trails but there is a need to agitate for Street Trees.
Both David and Michael thanked all those involved over what seems a long haul, a well planned and successful effort to examine and act on the priorities identified back in 2013.
Ron & Julia Snep prepared and served delicious piping hot, woodfired pizzas which were devoured as eager conversations continued over wine.

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