Not all happy with walk

Not all happy with walk

The concept plans for an all abilities walking circuit that were published in last week’s Lakes Post are causing anxious times for some residents.

Peter Neverauskas, from the Lakes Waterfront Motel, and other residents of Short Street, Middle Street, Jetty Road and Mackillops Lane, feel the eastern end plans have not taken into consideration what is best for that area.

“Don’t get me wrong, I am all for the circuit walk and I think Darren Chester has done a good job in instigating this venture,” Peter said.

“But I do think we are not been listened to with our concerns.”

This area has houses fronting onto Cunninghame Arm with a sandy cove and privately owned jetties.

Some residents fear it will take away their private property and encroach on their lifestyle.

“The area has a long history as a community beach and the East Gippsland Shire’s Foreshore Management plan sees it as a natural precinct,” Peter said.

He feels the plans do not preserve a largely natural environment with aesthetic and cultural values.

“I have been in contact with local Gunaikurnai elders and the plans for this section of the walk do not have their support,” he said.

Numerous plans for the area had been drawn up, but Peter is unsure which one has been submitted to council.

“Consultants doing the job have not met their brief with water access and maintaining views,” he said.

“The planned structures proposed would not even meet basic health and safety regulations, for example provision of guard rails.”

For years the residents have tried to get the area dredged to restore more sand to the cove, now the fear is there will be no sandy foreshore left.

Luke Roberts has been renting in this area for the past seven years and said that not only him, but his landlords who live in another town, are devastated by the planned boardwalk.

He feels the foreshore from the footbridge all the way down to Short Street should be dredged and made into beaches for swimmers.

“Really, at the moment, the only beach along the Esplanade is a small one opposite McDonalds, until you get to our area,” Luke said.

“There is nowhere for families to park and swim along the Esplanade, if there were sandy coves all along the place would be packed and this would benefit the town enormously.

“I don’t have a problem with people using the beach in front of my place, but there won’t be one with the planned boardwalk.

“The natural cove has needed dredging for a long time.”

Luke said in Maroochydore they have laid long sand bags down and then dredged sand over the top of them to create beautiful beaches.

“This is what we need more than stone walls and raised boardwalks along this side of the lake, half a dozen little sandy beaches all the way up to the footbridge,” he said.

“The plans, as they exist, mean no one can swim, it would be so much more attractive and used all the time.”

At the initial meeting of residents with Mr Chester, not one person objected to the raised boardwalk on the southern side between the Main Beach and Eastern Beach.

They commended Mr Chester for that part of his initiative, but feel he is not seeing the potential for a more natural environment on the northern side of Cunninghame Arm.

As a keen birdwatcher, Luke feels that if these plans go ahead there will be no birdlife left to enjoy.

“At Christmas this proposed boardwalk will be packed with people from the Eastern Beach Caravan Park accessing the town,” he said.

“All the natural wildlife will have left.

“There were two tourists walking along in front of my house recently, I asked them if they would like to feed the birds. They loved it, that is natural beauty and that’s what tourists are looking for.”

David Pope and his wife, Noela, also support the boardwalk proposed circuit around the eastern end of Lake Cunninghame, subject to the sensible engineering controls and planning. “But, we remain totally opposed to all of the currently proposed concepts for the development of the MacKillops Lane to the existing shared pathway to the west component,” David said.

“Each concept would destroy the natural environment, the sandy family beaches and the amenity and enjoyment of the local residents and tourist alike.

“But, this strongly held view and the construction of the pathway are not mutually exclusive.

“Each of the Minister’s concepts should and must, logically, first require the dredging of the cove to reclaim and restore the sandy beaches that existed before the development upstream caused it to silt up.

“The proposed all ability path can then be laid at the natural surface level across this section to link with the proposed path through the wilderness area to the east, opposite MacKillops Lane.

“This totally obviates the need for expensive and obtrusive retaining walls or elevated structures and the existing natural environment and amenity of the area can be maintained and preserved,” he said.

David feels this is a sensible compromise, that with a modicum of goodwill and cooperation from all of the stakeholders, can be achieved with considerable economy.

Mr Chester said he encouraged feedback from the community in regards to the concept designs.

“We welcome all of the feedback and remain committed to developing a final concept plan which meets the needs of locals, visitors and adjoining land owners,” he said.

“It’s an exciting project with the potential to deliver long term social, economic, environmental and cultural benefits to Lakes Entrance.

“All of the feedback by residents is being closely considered as the plans are refined to ensure we can build a safe, accessible and attractive boardwalk and circuit around the eastern edge of Cunninghame Arm.

“The local designers are very responsive to the input by the community and they are redeveloping their plans for release in the coming weeks.”

IMAGE: Peter Neverauskas, of the Lakes Waterfront Motel, is one of the residents concerned the foreshore at the eastern end of Cunnighame Arm is going to disappear to make way for the proposed all abilities walking circuit. INSET: Those concerned say a sandy cove would be enticing for visitors, much like it was some 25 years ago.