Indifference and kow-tow shaft the Moruya Missing Link of cycleway.
Irrespective of Danielle Brice's passionate presentation and pleas to Eurobodalla councillors at last Tuesday's council meeting there remains considerable reluctance to return the Missing Link of South Head Moruya cycleway to the Eurobodalla Pathways Strategy.Council's Director of Infrastructure, Warren Sharpe, took his seat at the meeting and took the question of why the Missing Link was removed from the strategy. The Missing Link of cycleway is approx 2.6km and will infill from Halyard Drive to Keightley Street and join completed section of 4.4 kilometres that has been laid down by the community with Federal, State and Council contributions and considerable monies raised by the community. Director Sharpe advised that the Pathways Strategy needed to best serve and benefit the most within its limited budget. Council was focusing on provision of pathways to provide access to bus stops and also infilling existing pathway networks that provided all weather access to the higher use facilities and institutions in the Shire.He advised that there was a point score attributed to all the pathways identified as being required by the community and it was that point score that directed where the priorities lay. He advised Ms Brice and the councillors that the Missing Link section had lost its status in the Eurobodalla Shire Council’s pathways strategy as it was a very expensive and to pursue it would see a cost in excess of six figures (therefore over $1 million). The proposed path section would traverse wetlands and require environment assessments and costly engineering works.There was an acquiescence that the section could be returned to the Strategy so that it could be identified as a Council endorsed project and therefore qualify for funding if there ever happened to be 100% State or Federal funding made available. The following was added to the motion Council adopt the Eurobodalla Pathways Strategy June 2017 attached to this report, subject to the following amendments: i.In Appendix A1-24 the wording be changed to read as follows: ‘The Moruya to South Head off–road pathway linkage will be reconsidered when the pathways strategy is next reviewed in five years, unless the project is fully funded through grants (outside of the Active Transport Program) and/or community funding’. ii.The inclusion of an explanatory paragraph under section ‘4.6 Point score System’ be provided to outline how community funding and/or input, and grants impact the point score by reducing the cost per meter of construction Ms Brice has specifically asked for details of what the "More than six figures" costings entail however has had no answer to date.With an understanding of the breakdown in costs that might go towards design, environmental reports and construction the Moruya South Head Cycleway group would be better placed to apply for grants. With little information forthcoming from Council the group may now consider making application to for a NSW State government Community Building Partnership grant to undertake the investigations and design.Ms Brice said that at no time have they requested money. They simply have requested that the Missing Link be recognised and remain recognised so that grants can be sought and the project realised in the future via a series of positive steps.Her presentation to the councillors saw a reasonable response of indifference to the views being given by Director Sharpe that the Missing Link needed to be removed from the Pathways Strategy. Ms Brice found this concerning as such a move to “remove anything too difficult” from a whole of shire strategy that has been prepared in consultation with the community might see a precedent where they strike off other projects that they feel fall outside of their priorities. Whist Councillor Mayne wanted to seek support of other Councilors to reinstate the Missing Link so that it might show Council endorsement of the link for the purposes of seeking grants his appeal fell flat to an indifferent audience and it was very clear to those in the gallery that they had already made up their minds to exclude the link as recommended by staff. It is not known whether the councillors had been advised in their pre meeting briefing of the current endorsed Moruya Structure Plan that is a visionary document setting out the strategic planning framework for development over 25 years. The Structure Plan sets out the planning framework for protection of the environment, traffic movement and connectivity of the settlement, and the scale, pattern and broad location of development including provision for new housing and business for Moruya inclusive of South Head and inclusive of the cycleway connection. With over 1000 people living in Moruya South Head and with a high number of children who attend Moruya High and the two primary schools PLUS the ever growing number of cyclists attracted to the area Ms Brice and members of the Eurobodalla cycling fraternity believe that Council is being shortsighted on not providing the support or direction to complete this link, either via the wetland or via the road shoulder of South Head Road and that while the determination to “shelve” the project has been made, from a tourism and community amenity perspective the councillors have been hoodwinked by a chart of statistics rather than being directed by a vision of what could be.