By Michael Giles
AS IF dangerous roads weren’t enough the residents of a new housing estate in San Remo are being smothered, quite literally by a whole new problem in the past few weeks – raised dust.
It’s been so bad, according to Potters Hill Road resident Jake Wright, that he’s had to take his kids and family away for a few days to escape the howling easterly that’s been sand blasting their home.
“The kids can’t breath,” he said this week.
“It’s absolutely unlivable, that’s how bad it is,” Mr Wright said.
“When the easterly is blowing like it has been in recent days, we cop it, but when it turns southerly, the rest of the houses get blasted.
“It’s out of control and something has got to be done about it,” he said.
Mr Wright and a possie of other affected residents have taken their concerns to local MP Jordan Crugnale who has pledge to do something about it immediately, but that’s not their only line of redress.
They’ve also enlisted the help of Bas Coast Mayor Cr Brett Tessari and sympathetic local representative CR Rochelle Halstead.
And on Tuesday next week, they’ve had the offer of a visit by Georgie Crozier MLC, the Shadow Health Minister and Edward O’Donohue MLC, the Shadow Attorney-General and Member for Eastern Victoria Region.
They are already well-acquainted with the roads problem in the area but have also shown concern about the dust coming from the new construction site as well.
“We’ve been told they haven’t lodged an environmental plan with the council, but it’s a government project so I suppose they feel they don’t have to,” said Jake.
“But they need to have a milk tanker spraying water across the site, or two of them, not some little water tanker you’d use on a road.
“And they haven’t been using it all the time, just every now and then, it’s not good enough.
“The dust has been incredible and its all day and night. My house has been ruined.
“They also need to have that green mesh up high around the site to reduce the dust and other mess from leaving the site.”
Jake says he understands that it’s a construction site and they need to be doing excavation to get the school built but they need to be doing everything they can to keep the dust down.
Bass Coast Councillor Rochelle Halstead agrees.
“Yesterday the dust from the site of the San Remo Secondary College was unacceptable and puts the health and wellbeing of surrounding residents at risk,” she said to the Sentinel-Times today.
“I had reports of people needing to flee their homes with their children who were being subjected to the dust storm.
“The handling by the State government of this project has been inconsiderate to say the least.”
Cr Halstead also eluded to the alluded to the problem the community has already identified, the need to upgrade Potters Hill and Shetland Heights roads, to cater to the traffic for the new school.
At present the State Government has left it to the council and the local community to meet the cost of the access road upgrades.
“Although the school will be a much-needed addition to San Remo that the community is grateful for, the refusal to provide the supporting infrastructure to allow for safe access for school children and their families shows a complete disregard for the safety of our community,” Cr Halstead said.
“The increase in traffic and construction vehicles using the unsealed Potters Hill section of road and Shetland Heights Road has tested the patience of residents with Council addressing the problem by arranging for regular watering down of these roads.
“And now residents are being forced again to endure the dust being created by the build itself, which is unbearable.
“There has been a complete lack of consideration shown by the State Government who it seems is only focussed on cutting a ribbon just prior to an election!”
Mr Wright acknowledged the issues with the road, and agreed that they should have been upgraded before the construction on the project started but he seems convinced now that the State Government will come to the party there.
He said the clear priority now was the dust.