By Kirra Grimes
RESIDENTS of Korumburra and surrounds heard the latest updates on several major town projects as the president of the local business association was invited to speak at the Korumburra Bowls Club recently.
President of the Korumburra Business Association and Korumburra Roundtable member Noelene Cosson addressed a room full of bowls club members and other interested individuals at a recent coffee morning, sharing insider knowledge on a range of current community projects including the Hub and Rail Trail and the IGA supermarket development.
Attendees were invited to ask questions, as Noelene clarified the KBA’s stance on topics that have prompted public debate.
Here’s a summary of what Noelene had to say…
On the proposed Community Hub: Plans are yet to be finalised but it’s likely that new facilities will be built at the railyards precinct for Milpara Community House and the Korumburra Library, while the Korumburra Historical Society, Federation Art Gallery, and Korumburra Senior Citizens Club will all operate out of the original station building, which VicTrack has “earmarked” $1.5 million to restore.
The restored building would house a commercial kitchen and several meeting rooms for community use.
A new skatepark remains part of the plan for the railyards site, having already received $250,000 funding from the South Gippsland Shire Council and Sport and Recreation Victoria.
As the site is still classed as an open rail corridor, nothing can be built where the existing train tracks lie.
But, according to Noelene, it’s highly unlikely that trains would return to Korumburra any time soon.
She said the “challenging” nature of the project – especially handling the flow of pedestrian and vehicle traffic in and out of the area – had “held up” the completion of the design.
The disused Caltex site on Commercial Street has been looked at as a possible access point, but the outcome of this was unknown, she said.
Carparking “won’t be an issue,” due to the ample amount of space available at the site.
The draft masterplan for the Korumburra Railway Station site and concept design of the Community Hub will be exhibited to the community for three to four weeks before being adopted by Council, taking into consideration the feedback received.
Once adopted, the plans will proceed to the detailed design phase, which will focus on getting the project ‘shovel-ready’ to assist in lobbying external sources including the State Government for funding to begin construction works.
Council’s Major Projects Coordinator Penni Ellicott said the consultation period had been anticipated to begin in August, but was delayed by the need for “modifications” to the plans to ensure they “captured all of the various facets of the brief”.
Ms Ellicott previously told the Sentinel-Times that Council would be dependent on external sources for at least half of the total cost of the Hub, and that it should be thought of as a “big picture” project, taking shape over the next five years.
On the Great Southern Rail Trail extension: The proposed extension of the Rail Trail from Leongatha to the Korumburra rail/Hub precinct is a priority project for the South Gippsland Shire Council which may be done in stages, over the next two years, or all at once, depending on whether the Council can fund it all themselves or need State Government help.
An extension from Korumburra to Clyde is also being planned and designed and is being worked on but is “not a huge priority at this stage”.
On the IGA supermarket development: There’s “nothing happening” at the moment.
“It’s important to remember that we do have a supermarket in town – a community supermarket that provides a good service”.
On the footpath from town to Korumburra Secondary College: The footpath “has been in a terrible state for years” and a project to upgrade it has been worked on but has “hit a few snags”.
The project has been delayed by the need for Council to buy land to ensure the upgraded path is wide enough to accommodate both walkers and cyclists.
“There have been genuine reasons for the hold up,” Noelene said.
“But it [the project] won’t go away, believe me,” she said.
On changes at Korumburra’s Tourist Information Centre: The Tourist Information Centre, based at Coal Creek Community Park and Museum, is now operating on a seasonal basis.
It’s closed at the moment, but will reopen on December 1 and remain open until the week after Easter next year.
With Council reducing the funding allocated to Tourist Information Centres, Noelene encouraged community members to sign up as Volunteer Tourism Ambassadors and share their invaluable local knowledge with visitors to the area.
On the new ‘Buy in the Burra’ campaign: The KBA recently launched a campaign to encourage the Korumburra community to “support local and shop in town”.
“Remember that people in business are just ordinary people trying to make a living,” she said.
“Retail is an extremely tough gig, and a lot of businesses aren’t surviving that well.
“We have new ones coming in [to Korumburra], yes, but we can probably also expect that some more will close in the next 12 months.
“So, what we’re saying with the campaign is, imagine Korumburra without a retail sector.
“Imagine if we had no hardware store – we’d be lost without it.
“And all our local businesses donate to clubs and sports and schools as well as national campaigns and charities, so they’re being hit [financially] from everywhere.”