KALLAY Drive residents have vowed to take extreme measures to stop Bass Coast Shire Council ripping up Pioneer Bay’s only sealed road.
When a grader turns up in a fortnight to begin turning the temporarily-sealed road back to gravel, a handful of property owners who say they have “no other choice” have told the Sentinel-Times they will stand in unison on the road in protest.
“If they don’t want to listen to us, this is what we’ll do,” Kallay Drive homeowner Mike Thomas declared.
“We’ll let local traffic through, but if it’s anyone from the council, we’ll block the road.”
The decision is not one that residents say they have taken lightly; after all, they have been crying out for the shire to revoke its decision for over half a year.
After months of uncertainty, the council finally announced last week that maintenance crews would be destroying Kallay Drive’s sealed surface sometime during the week of May 19.
Three other roads in Dalyston – Tulloch, Powlett and Daly Streets – will receive the same fate in weeks following.
Since purchasing his two-storey home in Kallay Drive last December, Mr Thomas has joined the throng of residents asking the council to change its decision.
He said he had “no idea” the sealed road outside his property was due to be pulverised when he bought the place.
A real estate agent neglected to mention it, and he only found out a week after a fiery town meeting at Grantville late last November.
“If I had known then what I know now, I would never have bought this property,” he said.
An asthmas sufferer, Mr Thomas said he purchased the property thinking it would be a “nice, quiet spot” with no dust.
“You wouldn’t know by looking at the road that it’s only temporarily sealed,” he said.
“It looks like a normal sealed road that is just in poor condition.”
After spending thousands of his dollars on his new home in recent months – including a major extension – Mr Thomas now faces spending his retirement years in “a giant dust bowl”, as residents who remember what the road was like prior to the temporary seal describe it.
“The council says it is being ripped up because it’s a safety issue, but it’s going to be much more of an issue for the elderly and parents with prams,” Mr Thomas added.
“The road may not be in good condition now, but at least mothers don’t have to push prams along gravel.”
Another Kallay Drive resident, Clive Ringshaw, said there are “too many unanswered questions”.
He said he does not understand why, back in August when the council originally decided to return a number of roads in the shire back to an unsealed state, Churchill Ward councillor Phil Wright successfully argued to pull The Esplanade in Surf Beach and Sunderland Bay off the list until a transport study for Phillip Island had been completed.
Cr Le Serve attempted to add Kallay Drive to the exclusion list at a council meeting a few months later but the majority voted against it.
Several residents who recall Kallay Drive being sealed last decade say they were told by council officers at the time that the seal would remain in place until a special charge scheme had been developed for the entirety of Pioneer Bay.
Mr Ringshaw said he would be happy to fork out for such a project if it meant residents could benefit from a fully sealed road.
“If the cost was reasonable for everyone and it was done correctly, I reckon (a scheme) like that would be bloody brilliant,” he said.
Whilst some preliminary work for a roads and drainage scheme in Pioneer Bay has been completed, it is now in jeopardy following the Cape Paterson special charge scheme debacle and indications from councillors that shire’s policy for such projects needs an overhaul.
In other words, if Kallay Drive is returned to gravel later this month, it could remain an unsealed road for a very long time.
Council has attempted to soften the blow to Kallay Drive residents by also announcing that only part of the road will be returned to gravel.
Originally, almost the entire stretch of road was to be graded, with only the top section, close to the Bass Highway turn-off, kept due to being in good condition.
Council’s infrastructure director, Felicity Sist, confirmed works are scheduled only for the section of road from Alec Street to Whiting Street, measuring about 260 metres.
“We’re not going to do as much as we thought we would do initially,” Ms Sist explained.
“Some of (the temporary seal) has held up, but it is important we get the works done before winter rain sets in.”
All Kallay Drive residents are expected to receive a notice in the mail early this week.
Ms Sist said residents are “likely to get a better level of serviceability with an unsealed road”.
“The original intention of the primer seal applications was as a dust suppressant treatment only, and because of the minimal surface preparation these works had a limited life expectancy – much like applying a coat of paint to a building without undertaking any repairs to the building’s structure,” she said.
“Whilst these treatments have serviced their short term purpose to suppress dust, some have deteriorated significantly and a long-term management strategy for these roads is now required.”
As for why Daly and Powlett Streets in Dalyston have now been added to the list of roads being ripped up when they were not mentioned in the original report to council last August, Ms Sist said their inclusion comes after recent inspections.
“The condition of the roads in question has deteriorated to the extent that action is required.”
Kallay Drive: The story so far…
• Between 2005 and 2007: The only road in out and out of Pioneer Bay, Kallay Drive was treated with a dust suppressant seal.
• 2007 onwards: The seal did not last as long as Bass Coast Shire Council expected, resulting in frequent maintenance work.
• Early 2013: The council announced Kallay Drive had been inspected and given a rating of 10 out of 10 for the extent of deterioration.
• August 2013: Councillors vote in favour of the road being returned to an unsealed state.
• September 2013: Residents revolt.
• November 2013: Council infrastructure staff answer questions at a town meeting at Grantville. Residents describe the meeting as “an exercise in futility”.
• December 2013: Cr Clare Le Serve urges her colleagues to exclude Kallay Drive from the list of roads being returned to gravel. The motion is lost.
• May 2013: Residents sent a letter detailing a confirmed date for works to take place.