IT WAS all a little bit embarrassing for the South Gippsland Shire Council and for the mover of the motion, Cr Alyson Skinner, but ultimately those seeking the development of a new skate park at Venus Bay are probably no worse off.
Cr Skinner was bitterly disappointed that none of her council colleagues saw fit to second her motion at last week’s council meeting, a motion that would have at least seen council debate the proposed location of the skate park on the corner of Jupiter Boulevard and Centre Road.
But when the motion was moved, to acknowledge the petition signed by 330 people and to support the Jupiter Boulevard-Centre Road site as the preferred location, Cr Skinner was left high and dry – no one seconded it and the motion lapsed for want of a seconder.
Cr Skinner said her plan had been to split the motion into separate parts but the Mayor Cr Lorraine Brunt said the matter was closed for procedural reasons.
“We can’t go back,” Cr Brunt said.
“What does that mean?” asked one of a number of supporters from Venus Bay in the public gallery.
“It simply means council hasn’t made a decision,” said the CEO Tim Tamlin.
“We’ve come here for nothing then. Can we ask a question?”
They couldn’t.
It was an awkward moment and several people in the Venus Bay community are still at a loss as to what actually happened last Wednesday but in light of debate over a subsequent motion, relating to the removal of vegetation on the site, it seems there’s still quite a bit of investigation and community consultation to go before the preferred site for the skate park is settled.
There is however no question about council’s support for a new skate park at Venus Bay and several councillors have been at pains to express this view.
Council has already allocated $125,000, at the request of the Venus Bay community, towards the development of the facility as part of the recent community budgeting process. The process allowed the community to determine the priorities on how $400,000 of capital works expenditure should be invested in the town.
The rest of the funding is supposed to go to: $125,000 to wildlife and environment protection including the planning of Van Cleef Reserve and $150,000 to the Venus Bay Surf Lifesaving Club for an extension that includes new public toilets.
Cr Skinner did get a chance to explain, however, during the debate over native vegetation removal from the Jupiter Boulevard-Centre Road site, also ultimately deferred.
She said that although the petition expressed support for the skate park and the site, there had been further discussion about its suitability and whether in fact it was needed for parking.
“So there’s not unanimous support for the site but there is for the skate park,” she said.
Cr Skinner also released a statement last weekend.
“The outcome of this is that the lead petitioner will be notified the petition lapsed and it cannot be presented again. Over 330 people signed the petition over summer to support the location of the approved and funded Venus Bay skate park in the location that was the preferred site of not only community members, but of council officers, infrastructure and planning department,” Cr Skinner said this week.
“The voice of the community has been effectively silenced. The matter cannot be presented again nor could it be discussed at the council meeting,” she said.
Cr Skinner said that while council purchased the land in 2016 for a car park, there was little or no public consultation at the time and no progress since. The thought of having a carpark as people arrived in town didn’t appeal to some and many thought the idea of a skate park ideal. Now it will have to wait even though it is funded and has both community and council officer support, she said.
Cr Ray Argento subsequently moved a motion, seconded by Cr Skinner that council defer the decision on the removal of native vegetation at 141–143 Jupiter Boulevard “until such time as a precinct plan considers all appropriate locations for the Venus Bay Skate Park and until council further considers the matter. The reason for the deferment is that there was insufficient consultation”.
Cr Jeremy Rich acknowledged that it was a frustrating delay for the young people of Venus Bay but suggested it was better to get it right, especially with selecting a safe site.
“You’ve had a lot of patience up until now and we’re asking for a little bit more patience.”