Tired of potholes, dust and open drains such as the one he’s pictured standing in, Cape Paterson resident Neil Duncan says his town will be better off if the controversial special charge scheme now open for submissions and objections gets the go-ahead. G020914
By Gav Ross
AMID furore over the $7.1 million roads and drainage scheme proposed for Cape Paterson, some residents embroiled in the project are crossing their fingers, hoping it will go ahead.
Last fortnight, Bass Coast Shire Council gave notice that it intends to declare the scheme – which affects 469 properties in the estate – at its July meeting.
Property owners affected have until the close of business on March 26 to get their submissions or objections in.
Speaking on behalf of what he described as “the silent majority”, long-time Cape Paterson resident Neil Duncan says there are “a great number” of people who won’t be objecting because they have been waiting years for such a scheme to finally be approved.
“Cape Paterson is a town that is filling up with permanent residents and they want a better place to live,” Mr Duncan argued.
“The people here deserve a flourishing township, not one that’s drowning in dirt roads that continue to gobble up ratepayers’ money week after week because of ongoing maintenance.”
Mr Duncan will be levied close to $14,000 for his property on Wheeler Road if the scheme proceeds.
In total, landowners will be paying $5.6 million of the total cost of the scheme, with the average working out to around $12,000.
Some, however, face a bill of over $40,000 because they live on double or triple blocks.
Whilst he admits very few residents (including himself) are thrilled by being asked to shell out for the works, “it’s a necessity” when it comes to improving the value of properties in the long run.
“It’s an established fact that road and drainage improvements give you a better asset, so there will be capital appreciation,” he explained.
“I believe this road scheme will go ahead because people will sense their asset will be bettered for the money outlaid.”
That said, Mr Duncan says he is sympathetic to residents who may be at risk of financial hardship because of the costs associated with the scheme.
“But I’m also sympathetic to people with water going under their house due to inadequate drainage,” he added, noting that he wasn’t one of them.
“I would like council to pay for everything but there are no free rides.
“And I know I’ll get the amount I pay back and more in value for my property.”
Mr Duncan, a retired accountant, is so in favour of the scheme that he wrote up his own dissertation – ‘The case for better roads and drainage at Cape Paterson’.
In it, he argues that ratepayers living on roads around Cape that are already sealed are unfairly subsidising the ongoing maintenance cost of the estate’s gravel roads.
Further, he writes that ‘road surfaces with drainage go hand-in-hand, like toothpaste and toothbrush’.
He distributed his document at the local general store in the hopes of debunking “myths” put forward by residents objecting to the scheme.
Scheme ‘hijacked by dissidents’
Mr Duncan believes the campaign group Preserve the Cape – who claim to have the support of at least 50 per cent of those affected by the scheme – may not have as much support as they think.
He believes some residents may have told protestors that they were planning on objecting but won’t follow through.
“I had one woman tell me that (campaigners) knocked on her door and she felt intimidated,” Mr Duncan said.
“She told them at the time that she would object, but now she says she won’t be.”
Mr Duncan also believes many protesting against the scheme are “part-timers” – residents who want to keep the village feel of Cape Paterson intact because it’s only the town they holiday in.
“The whole scheme has been hijacked by the dissidents,” he said.
“I understand their views but they shouldn’t bulldoze over other peoples’ views.
“Permanent residents here want a good township – a place where they can safely go for a walk on roads without open drains.”
“There are parents here who can’t take kids for a walk in a pram because of uneven road surfaces
“No one walks around here; everyone just drives their car because it’s not safe to walk on many of the roads.”
Bass Coast Shire Council is now addressing misconceptions surrounding the Cape Paterson special charge scheme after adding ‘Mythbusters’ section to its website.
To view, visit the website by clicking here.