– The community has spoken, Inverloch’s chicanes must go

By Michael Giles

IT’S tough to get a consensus in Inverloch.
There’s always been a divergence of opinion around protecting the environment and the character of the town.
There’s opposing views on what constitutes an appropriate level of development, whether or not the town should be allowed to expand further and why some foreshore trees can’t simply be cut down so you can sit out at a cafe somewhere and watch the ocean while you enjoy a latte.
Now, lest we be accused of bias or pushing an agenda, the fact is that you can actually be on both sides of the debate at the same time.
And that was certainly the case at the second Community Plus Inverloch discussion night last Friday night convened by Cr Jordan Crugnale.
It’s here that that the latte sippers, among others, had their say.
However amid the turmoil of views, suggestions and ideas about the future, at what was essentially a talkfest, everyone agreed on one thing.
And for Inverloch, that’s quite something.
What they all agreed on to a man, woman and child was that the dangerous chicanes in Surf Parade must be removed immediately before someone gets badly injured, or worse.
They should definitely be removed before Christmas, they say, before the holiday hoards arrive towing caravans and boats.
“We told you about this last time but you did nothing about it. What’s the point of these meetings if you don’t do something about it?” said one of the people at the meeting, directing her remarks at Cr Crugnale.
“They are dangerous. Come summer time, I’d hate to think what will happen,” said another.
“Where was the consultation with the community before VicRoads came down?”
“They are illegal intersections. I work in the insurance industry and I wouldn’t like to be doing the assessing if there was an accident.”
“The council has created a situation that is highly dangerous,” was another comment.
Cr Crugnale said she would take the matters “on board” but that wasn’t enough for the meeting with other people describing a heated discussion about the same issue at the previous Community Plus meeting, two months ago.
“What happened with that?” they asked.
President of the Inverloch Tourism Association Don Brusamarello agreed.
“We have got a clear and present danger to life and limb there. We’ve got the issue that caravaners and people towing boats will be coming through there at Christmas, unaware of the changed conditions.
“How are they going to back out with a car or caravan on behind, and forget about what could happen at night time,” he said.
“Sell tickets!” was one comment.
“Are we just going to sit here until January and wait until some kid gets knocked over before the shire acts? The parking is the other issue.
“How are we going to get it through to the council that it needs to be fixed now?”
“We need an answer from our ward councillor here. I don’t know if the gravity of the discussion the community had last time has got through to the council. The next meeting (in two months’ time) will be too late,” he said.
Roger Thorrowgood said clearly the shire’s much-vaunted new approach to community engagement wasn’t working.
“It doesn’t work if you can’t get immediate action, even if it involves safety,” he said.
“No one is listening, there’s your problem right there,” he said.
The convenor of the meeting suggested that Cr Crugnale get a response from the shire and have it published in the Sentinel-Times.

Who is responsible?

Since the meeting on Friday night, the following email was sent to the Sentinel-Times:
“I just wanted to drop you a line to say thank you so much for attending last night’s meeting. I was so happy too that you could hear firsthand what has been frustrating the majority of the Inverloch community with regards to the chicanes along Surf Parade and our urgency to get the footpath to the surf club finished.
“By the way, not sure if you are aware that it was Jordan Crugnale and solely Jordan who was responsible for those chicanes…”
Cr Crugnale has since denied that she was “in any way responsible for the chicanes”.
“No, Council applied for black spot funding and the treatments were approved by VicRoads and designed in accordance with appropriate standards. Council’s technical traffic engineering staff prepared the designs in accordance with these standards,” she told the Sentinel this week.
“While some, possibly many, may not like the design, they perform their role in slowing traffic and diverting unnecessary traffic to other roads like Toorak.”
Are you supportive of the chicanes?
“My preference would have been to have the same treatment all along the 2.4km stretch of Surf Parade. This would have meant one notification sign at either end, thereby not having the visual clutter of signs all along the way. The speed humps for example are visually quiet on the landscape and even the red brick work compliments the town centre brick aesthetic.”
Will you carry out the community’s wishes and work to have them removed by Christmas?
“As Discussed on Friday night, I will write up a summary and address the specific questions raised by three weeks.
“Community Plus Inverloch is my personal initiative to better understand the community I represent, their views, interests and what their vision is for the town. The guest speakers are there to inform and spark a conversation. The bimonthly series is also an opportunity to update on what is happening on the ground i.e. the Skate Park project, and importantly for community groups and organisations, to introduce themselves to a wider audience by telling us who they are, what they want to do and what their strategic direction is.”
Last Friday night this involved two informative presentations from the Inverloch Stars Soccer Club and Inverloch Windsurfing Club.
There was also a discussion about improving the look and design of the ‘heart of Inverloch’, the town centre, which a highly qualified architect at the meeting described as an embarrassment (see Sentinel-Times’ comment page 32.)

Shire response

Felicity Sist, General Manager Infrastructure, has provided the following responses:
“An independent audit is being undertaken of the traffic calming devices in September. We will look to see if the audit recommends any further action.”