Lakes Entrance is in good hands

Lakes Entrance is in good hands

The Lakes Entrance community should feel as though it is in good hands after a huge turnout to the Lakes Entrance Action Development Association (LEADA) town meeting last Thursday night.

More than 300 people attended the meeting at the Mechanics Hall to hear what improvements will take place this year and what future plans East Gippsland Shire Council, represented by chief executive officer, Anthony Basford, and fellow staff, State, Federal Government, represented by Lakes Entrance local and Gippsland MP, Darren Chester, and government authorities, Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning, represented by Darren McKenzie, and Gippsland Ports, with chief executive, Chris Waites, had for the town. Mr Chester was full of praise for the local community for showing its tight-knit willingness to achieve better outcomes.

“This is the largest town meeting in my long involvement in Lakes Entrance,” he said.

Mr Chester said the key to developing Lakes Entrance is to work collaboratively with all levels of government and agencies, form plans and follow through with them.

“Nothing will happen without planning. We, as a community, need to collectively target our priorities and consistently advocate for them,” he said.

“You are here because you care about our town and probably because you want to see some progress on various issues.” Mr Chester said seeing empty shop fronts “disturbed him enormously” and that to help boost the economy, the town needs to lift its standards.

“My fear is that with our extraordinary natural attractions, the built infrastructure is poor and not meeting the standards of the modern day traveller,” he said.

“We have to lift our standards to where they need to be. There are good ideas out there.

“We’re going to have an iconic viewing platform (Jemmys Point) that is going to make people stop, get their Instagram updated, Twitter, Facebook, and post positive photos of our town.”

The Federal Member said the town needs to be prepared to implement projects and when funding opportunities are in reach, pounce. “Define the ask and get our plans investment ready. If we just sit around talking about it as a group, unless we get a business case to put to government, we don’t get past the first stage,” he said.

“We have to politely knock on the front door at the start, but reserve the right to kick down the back door.

“As a town, think about that – knock on the front door, whether it’s State Government, Local Government or Federal Government, be polite at first, but reserve the right to knock down the back door, they’ve got to know we’re fair dinkum.”

Mr Chester’s final message was “never give up”. He also congratulated LEADA for Reinvigorating the organanisation.

As well as listening to the current and future plans of the previously mentioned organisations, the meeting was called to hear from the community about what needs to be done to re-juvenate the town.

There was a lively question and answer session where residents attending asked questions to the panel members.

Questions and comments ranged from the development of Bullock Island and Slipway site, both of which are totally unfunded, Myer Street and streetscape projects, the danger created by recently completed Kalimna roadworks, improving walking tracks and amenties along Eastern Beach, Main Beach and to the entrance, to the completion of a quality off-leash area for dogs.

“It is reassuring to see so many people turn up for a town meeting,” LEADA president, Bruce Hurley, said.

“LEADA will be making a budget submission to East Gippsland Shire advocating for projects raised by community members.

“LEADA is also involved in ongoing discussions with VicRoads and all three tiers of government to maximise funding coming to Lakes Entrance.

“Lakes Entrance is in catch-up mode with other comparable coastal towns. We heard that progress is being made, but much more needs to be done.”

PICTURED: More than 300 people attended the meeting at the Mechanics Hall to hear what improvements to Lakes Entrance will take place this year and what the future holds.