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It's a Mystery?
RantdougkSun, 14/01/2018 - 8:51pm
What has happened to the money previously allocated for infrastructure in the Cove? That is the mystery!
And it is a timely question after a week of storms with drains overflowing and roads covered in debris. In expressing our concerns about the risks to our Village from proposed merger back in April 2016 we wrote:
The North Arm Cove Residents Association has worked hard over many years to gain the attention of Great Lakes Council in order to gain community facilities for our village and attention to our roads and drainage needs. We have been an active community and have sought and obtained government and other grants to meet our needs. Whenever we can, we do not simply wait around for Council to take the initiative. But to solve some problems we are completely dependent on council.
In recent years we have had a number of massive rainfall events that highlighted the poor state of drainage in the Cove. Many houses have been damaged by stormwaters flooding their houses or basements. Following our prompting, Great Lakes Council commissioned a study which identified the drainage “hotspots” and proposed remedies. The first of many phases in the implementation of this stormwater management plan occurred late in 2015.
While future funding has notionally been allocated to implement this plan, all councils have a tendency to redirect funds towards any identified problems which impact a greater number of ratepayers. In the proposed large merged council, with its massive maintenance backlog, we have diminished confidence that our needs, like drainage, will receive sufficient priority.
So how is the now-merged Council doing?
For context, here is a bit of recent history with Cove infrastructure:
February 2013: Concerned with the many drainage problems in the Cove, NACRA sought community input to build a list of them - just before the freak storm on 1 March caused extensive damage to many local properties.
February 2015: Council launches a Cove Stormwater Management Strategy which identifies the 8 priority areas to be addressed first - at a conservatively estimated cost of $600,000. A new drainage levy was introduced for village properties. We were told that Council was notionally setting aside $200,000 per year for drainage problems but that implementation may take 4-5 years.
October 2015: Work on the first priority site begins. Work on the second was scheduled for April 2016 and began on time.
May 12 2016: MidCoast Council formed.
Late 2016: Design for Water St drainage is finalised.
Meanwhile, in 2014: Council received Federal Roads to Recovery funding for the construction and dealing of The Esplanade East. This work was planned for 2015-16 and there was a brief period where the RFS proposed funding a narrow link between the two parts of The Esplanade. The work on The Esplanade East construction was again “revoted” in the 2016-17 Council works program.
April 2017: Director of Engineering Ron Hartley advises that this work would begin in June.
July 2017: Ron Hartley advised that The Esplanade East construction and Water St drainage were again “revotes” and due for construction in the near future. He also advised that the easement near 33 The Esplanade was the next priority for 2017-18 and its design was being finalised.
August 2017: We were told The Esplanade construction design was being finalised and that Water St would be the next drainage project.
September 2017: Council Elections
October 2017: Council's Capital Works plans are published, listing The Esplanade construction to occur in November 2017 and, in the five-year plan, showing a total of $200,000 for Cove drainage works but with no year-by-year breakdown.
December 2017: The Council Capital Works and Projects is published on the Council website with no mention of North Arm Cove at all! The listing jumps straight from Mitchells Island to Nowendoc.
January 2018: No work on either The Esplanade or Water St. Despite the additional Government funds received from the Merger, the supposed savings the merger has produced, the Special Rate Variation we have now been required to pay plus the Cove drainage levy. On this evidence Cove infrastructure works are clearly rated as low priority by Council.
Are we going to remain a forgotten corner of this Council 10,000 square kilometres? While Councillors and staff focus their attention almost exclusively on Manning, Foster/Tuncurry and Gloucester? We note that this year 9 Council meetings will be held in Taree and 2 in Gloucester. And 9 Strategic committee meetings will be held in Forster and 2 in Gloucester. No more than token visits to the Council's nether regions it seems.