COMMUNITY ‘cluster’ meetings. You may not remember, dear reader, but there was a major fight over the concept while the disgraced former South Gippsland Shire Council was in office.

The idea allegedly came from some overseas guru and, seeing the success of the Korumburra Round Table, bringing groups together, some councillors wanted to roll it out everywhere.

The Leongatha Business Association not so much.

But the clusters are still alive and the concept returned last week after COVID to the ‘North Western’ part of the shire, with some success, thanks to three shire staff members; Barbara Look, Denise Trani and John Ernest, and also the community representatives from Bena, Loch and Poowong who turned out.

Nyora was unrepresented on this occasion, at the Poowong CFA rooms on Wednesday, May 12, but will be welcomed with open arms next time.

It all boiled down to two main issues, one of them brought to the meeting by community road safety expert John Ernst, about pedestrian safety in the towns, and the other by Loch representative Sean Taylor-Lyons about the potential benefits from the rail trail extension.

There was general support for Mr Ernst’s idea about a cluster approach to improving road safety, identifying the best place for a pedestrian crossing in each town, and other road safety issues.

And, at the initiative of the meeting last week, a special community meeting will be arranged at Loch next month to hear from experts, and also from the community, about what they’d like to see happen with the rail trail.

All three shire representatives were in no doubt that the extension of the trail, from Leongatha to Nyora (ultimately linking up with an extension from Cranbourne), will bring people, a lot of people, to the towns.

Even on a weekday in Meeniyan last Thursday you could see that. More so at the weekends.
And with the close proximity of the ‘North Western’ part of the shire to the south-eastern suburbs, this western end of the trail might even do better.

Who is going to maintain the trail?

What services and visitor infrastructure will be provided?

What about signs, maps and website support?

Communication is the key, they said, and now’s a good time to start with some information and community feedback about the rail trail.
Watch out for a date for the rail trail information meeting.