A STANDOUT feature of the draft master plan for the Leongatha Railway Site Transformation project is a $300,000 covered pedestrian bridge connecting a revitalised Bair Street to the park, playground, car parking and other features behind.
There could also be a rail trail bridge over Roughead Street and the idea of big, playful cow is not out of the question either.
It could all cost in the order of $2 million, according to Cr Andrew McEwen, built in stages of course, largely with government money.
The extent of this adventurous draft, put together over months of consultation, including a particularly insightful submission by students from the Leongatha Secondary College, was revealed at a briefing session last Wednesday.
It is available for community feedback until Tuesday, October 17.
Council has been given the opportunity to take over the lease of the railway land and to help rejuvenate the site into a visually appealing space that can be used by the local community and can help to attract visitors.
The railway corridor to Leongatha will remain open so that future rail services may one day return but, in the meantime, the draft master plan recommends a number of key initiatives, including:
• Rail trail extension from the current start at Horticultural Park into the site connecting to the station building and existing path from Roughead Street
• Restoring access from Bair Street past the Toy Shop as with the previous footbridge
• Use of station platform as a stage for performances with a grassed area for seating/recreation
• Playground and covered BBQ area
• Fitness equipment stations
• Additional car parking (opposite Anderson Street and also opposite Jeffrey Street)
South Gippsland Shire Council’s Senior Strategic Planning Officer Chantal Lenthall is keen for the community to review the draft Master Plan and to provide feedback.
“Council received hundreds of ideas as to how the Leongatha Railway Site should be improved. We have used the community’s key suggestions in the development of the Draft Master Plan and are now interested in hearing people’s feedback. We hope to receive constructive feedback on the Draft Master Plan so that the Final Master Plan is something that the community is proud to support.”
Once the Leongatha Railway Site Master Plan is finalised it will be used as a supporting document to assist with obtaining grant funding.
Grant funding is required for the project to advance to the next stage.
Councillors were generally supportive of the ideas contained in the plan.
“I’d still like to see something wild like a big cow feature,” said Cr Alyson Skinner.
Director Development Services Bryan Sword said it might be possible to attract an arts grant for something like that.
Cr Meg Edwards said she’d like to see more agricultural themes reflected.
Cr Lorraine Brunt said the rail yards had been “the bane of Leongatha’s existence since the trains stopped in 1993.
Cr Jeremy Rich said he would have liked to see more connection between the commercial area of town and the new park. He said there was a danger with it being hidden from view.
Mr Sword said the shire had toyed with the idea of buying a Bair Street block and opening the rail land up in a big way but suspected a prohibitive cost.
Cr Andrew McEwen was on another tangent.
“I’m bullish about getting the rail back in five to 10 years’ time.”
The plan can be viewed at: www.southgippsland.vic.gov.au/LeongathaRailwaySite Or in person at: • Council, 9 Smith Street, Leongatha • 37 Bair Street, Leongatha • Leongatha Library, 2 Smith Street, Leongatha27