News

Drains, paths and bins at centre of budget

FOOTPATHS and drainage were at the top of Manningham Council’s agenda when they unanimously adopted, in principle, the 2018/19 budget at the April 24 council meeting.

The draft budget includes an additional $1.5M to footpaths and $1.5M to drainage in their respective department budgets next financial year as part of an ongoing maintenance and improvement scheme.

This additional $3M is also part of Council’s four-year $10.5M plan to improve footpaths and drainage across the municipality. Highlights for Warrandyte are:

• Funds for finishing Warrandyte’s second “missing link”, connecting Warrandyte to the Main Yarra Trail with a new shared path.

• The final design of the Melbourne Hill Road drainage upgrade is earmarked for completion by September 30 this year.

On the other side of the ledger, there will be a rate increase of up to 2.25%.

China’s ban on foreign waste import, which has left many local governments across Australia floundering, means Manningham now has to pay $720,000p/a for waste and recycling to be removed whereas previously the council was given a $720,000 rebate for kerbside waste disposal. In real terms, waste and recycling charges are increasing 20%, or by an additional $42.30per household for standard waste collection.

In the council meeting, Councillor Paul McLeish highlighted that although a situation outside of council’s control has resulted in an increase in waste charges, the charges residents of Manningham will incur are still cheaper than they were six years ago and is the equivalent of half a cup of coffee per week ($2.50).

Although the budget is required to be adopted, in principle, under Local Government Act 1989, the budget is currently on public display and members of the public are invited to submit their views about the proposed budget via the Manningham YourSay website or in writing to council.

Written submissions will also have the opportunity to be presented verbally at a public meeting on May 31.

All submissions — whether presented just in writing or verbally as well — need to be submitted by 5pm on Thursday May 24.

Council will meet on June 24 to have the final say on the 2018/19 budget.

Bridgeworks in full swing

AFTER A two-month delay from the original scheduled weekend closure, the Warrandyte Bridge was fully closed over the weekend of May 5–6 and works have now resumed in earnest on the main bridge structure.

Single lane working occurred on April 18 for the AusNet works to replace the power pole at the bridge, and then again on May 2 for the VicRoads bridgeworks.

Although conducted outside the peak period, these single-lane working days caused significant traffic congestion in all four directions, the worst being on Ringwood-Warrandyte Road. Traffic delays ranged from 15 minutes to 40 minutes, with the average wait time being around 22 minutes.

VicRoads told the Diary that all future single lane closures will be done at night to minimise the impact on the community.

The installation of the protruding cantilever beams was completed during the period of single-lane working on May 2, and the big job of completing installation of the three huge lateral beams was performed very efficiently during the weekend of May 5–6.

In fact, the job was done so quickly that the bridge was reopened to traffic late on May 6.

The result of this work is that there is now a long lateral beam running for the entire length of the bridge about three metres out from original structure on the downstream side.

The job over the next few weeks will be for massive concrete pours to fill in the gap, following which we will have a much wider bridge surface. The existing railings on the downstream side can then be demolished and a new barrier erected to separate the new northbound lane from the new shared walkway.

At the same time, work is continuing on the north side to erect new traffic barriers, and on the upstream side in preparation for a slight overhang to accommodate the new pedestrian pathway on that side.

Although the May Information Update Bulletin has removed reference to the expected completion date, engineers advise they are still hopeful that the work can be completed by September/October.

Further full weekend closures are expected in the next couple of months, but at this stage the dates for these have not been set.

Rat-runners prompt temporary road closure

By DAVID HOGG

NILLUMBIK Council advises that following consultation with residents it has resolved to implement a temporary road closure on Dingley Dell Road near the intersection with Blooms Road while the Warrandyte Bridge upgrade works are in progress.

Residents have been vocal in their disgust of “rat-runners” speeding down the narrow dirt road to avoid the traffic build-up on Research-Warrandyte and Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Roads.

The temporary road closure will be in the form of a gate and is scheduled for installation mid-May.

The gate will be removed and the road reopened once the bridgeworks have been completed.

Complimentary signage to reinforce the road closure will also be installed on Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte, Research-Warrandyte and Blooms Roads.

Signage is also proposed at the southern leg of Dingley Dell Road to advise of the road closure ahead to enable vehicles to turn at Dingley Close.

Nillumbik Council recognises that the road closure is likely to result in an inconvenience to the broader community; however, it considers this intervention critical to manage the unprecedented ‘cut-through’ traffic use of this local road.

Community investment: Bank celebrates 15 years of “giving back”

WARRANDYTE Community Bank Branch has celebrated its 15-year anniversary at a special event held on Friday March 23.

Over 140 shareholders, community group representatives, directors, staff members and dignitaries gathered in The Grand Hotel’s Riverview Room to acknowledge the ongoing community service of the bank, which since its inception in 2003, has donated $2.8 million in community grants and sponsorships.

Community liaison officer Dee Dickson, who organised the celebration, said the event was so meaningful because it was not just about giving money, but about building a sense of community.

“The number of people that came to me and said we value your partnership and the relationships that the bank creates and fosters, that was really lovely to hear,” she said.

Branch chairman Aaron Farr said in his speech, that ordinary customers helped provide valuable community resources and facilities just by banking with the local branch.

“We are giving money back, and that’s our way of contributing but, we couldn’t do that without our customers,” he said.

“Thank-you to everyone in this room, because you are the reason we can do that.”

According to the bank’s 2017/18 financial reports, the branch returned over $400,000 in charitable donations to local schools, sporting clubs, emergency services and community groups in that financial year alone, which was nearly 80 per cent of its operating profit.

Mr Farr said in his speech, that the bank aims to grow that effort in the years to come.

“How nice would it be in another 15 years to be giving back $1 million a year,” he said.

“Just think of what we could actually achieve.”

Guests heard about the positive impact the bank’s various donations and contributions have had upon the local community, including a $30,000 grant awarded to the Burch Memorial Preschool, which allowed for much needed renovations and provided a second educational space for the preschool’s limited three-year-old program.

Burch Memorial Preschool President Sharmini Philp said in her speech, that the funding helped create a crucial support network for young families that was previously missing in Wonga Park.

“We don’t really have the words to describe the impact the Warrandyte Community Bank grant has had in our community,” she said.

“I still get goosebumps when I think about it.”

Ms Philp also said the preschool community did not just value the funding, but also the support, encouragement and guidance they received from the bank.

“They were actively involved and shared the journey with us,” she said.

“We really had no idea about the process at the time and the guidance from the Warrandyte Community Bank staff was amazing.”

Ms Dickson said the project was among those she was most passionate about, because the funding did not just provide infrastructure, but gave the preschool a space where young families could come together and meet.

“It ticks every box and exemplifies everything we hold dear to us,”
she said.

“Those sorts of projects really bring people in the community together.”

The branch also offers a scholarship program for first-time tertiary students whose circumstances might make a university degree otherwise unattainable, with funding of $10,000 delivered over the first two years of study.

Alex Ward, a nursing and paramedicine student at the Australian Catholic University in Ballarat, is currently in her second year of scholarship funding.

Alex, who has had to move to Ballarat, said the scholarship helped her pay for expenses such as, food, rent, petrol, textbooks and placement uniforms.

“If it was not for the scholarship, I would never have been able to study this degree,” she said.

“It’s the entire reason I can study in Ballarat.”

The branch, which is a franchise of the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank group, was created thanks to funding from locals, following the closure of the last of the big banks in Warrandyte.

John Provan, a founding director and shareholder, said in his speech that a volunteer steering committee of local business owners and club representatives made an enormous contribution in establishing the branch.

“We attended the local markets and the festival, selling shares to raise the necessary $600,000 plus, from approximately 360 shareholders, to commence the branch,” he said.

“It’s been a long haul and we didn’t dream we’d get to this stage.”

After the formalities, guests were able to socialise, relax, have a drink and enjoy the live music by Nick Charles and Mick Pealing.

Frock up for 2018 Mayoral Fireball

THIS YEAR, the Mayor of Manningham City Council, Andrew Conlon, has selected Fireball as the chosen charity of his annual Mayoral Ball.

Cr Conlon told the Diary one of the reasons he became a councillor was because his home almost burnt down in the Warrandyte fires in 2014.

“The CFA do a fantastic job and it’s important they have the resources to keep protecting our community.”

The Fireball committee is working with council, to deliver the 2018 Mayoral Fireball event, which will be on Saturday October 27, 7pm at the Manningham Function Centre, Doncaster.

“This year, the Mayoral Fireball will raise funds for the CFA.

“Fundraising plays a critical role in purchasing equipment for our local CFA brigades,” said Cr Conlon.

The local CFA brigades are part of the CFA network covering all of Victoria.

They respond to emergency events, including fires, road crashes, rescue operations, and also provide support in neighbouring brigade areas.

CFA brigades also respond alongside the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) as well as other emergency service organisations.

The brigades from Warrandyte, South Warrandyte, North Warrandyte and Wonga Park have come together and decided that the event will fundraise for a Forward Control Vehicle (FCV) — a four-wheel drive off road vehicle of an appropriate size to operate in the bush.

This is the command and control vehicle, it also operates the perimeter checks and transports strike teams.

It is replacing a 13-year-old vehicle housed at South Warrandyte station and is a volunteer only vehicle.

This ensures that if the staffed vehicles are out fighting fires across the state that our area has a dedicated FCV to manage and strategize local bushfire response.

The optimal setup for this appliance is a 200 Series LandCruiser wagon or twin cab, to carry five people, with V8 twin turbo diesel, snorkel air intake, multi terrain anti-lock braking system, portable UHF CB Radio along with CFA radios, lights, siren and livery.

An FCV would be used in a range of incident management roles including; incident control in a level one fire or incident, Sector Commander, Strike Team Leader, Ground Observer or Staging Area activities for level two or three incidents.

$85K is the target to purchase this vehicle.

Head of the Fireball committee, Julie Quinton, told the Diary that it was everyone’s responsibility to ensure both our own safety and that of the fire fighters who volunteer to protect us.

“We chose to live in these beautiful bushy areas, the very least we can do, as a community, is to ensure our CFA volunteers have the most up-to-date equipment to help keep them safe”, she said.

Mayor Conlon told the Diary that he would urge everyone to get behind the Mayoral Fireball.

“If you can’t attend the event, you can take part in our online auction.

“Sponsorship opportunities are also available for any businesses who want to get involved,” he said.

Cr Conlon said that he hopes the Mayoral Fireball is able to raise both funds and awareness in the community.

“It’s important that everyone has a plan and knows how to respond in an emergency,” said Cr Conlon.

Warrandyte’s bridgeworks and traffic nightmare

Mystery surrounds ongoing delays

EAGLE-EYED READERS will have noticed that not a lot has been happening with the bridge upgrade works over the last few weeks.

Certainly contractors are working on the north side drilling holes for the road barriers, however, nothing seems to have progressed on the bridge structure itself.

The scaffolding and access platforms are all in place on both sides, but there is no sign of any construction of cantilevers or beams.

The closure of the bridge over a full weekend was originally scheduled for March 3–4 but was postponed due to the market and the fun run being on that date.

The following weekend of March 10–12 was not suitable as it was the Labour Day long weekend, and the next weekend of 17–18 was the Warrandyte Festival.

The works were then re-scheduled for March 23–25 but were cancelled at extremely short notice, at 3pm on Friday March 23, because, according to VicRoads, “our contractor, VEC Civil Engineering, has requested more time to prepare to install the beams”.

This last minute cancellation caused disruption to residents and businesses who had put alternative arrangements in place, including cancelling newspaper and grocery deliveries to North Warrandyte and Warrandyte Theatre Company forgoing their matinee performance — it is still unclear why the decision to cancel  the full bridge closure occurred hours before it was meant to start.

Since then, not much has happened, and a complete veil of secrecy has descended on the project.

We visited the site and asked a number of VEC workers what was happening.

We were told, “we’re not allowed to say anything; you’ll have to talk to VicRoads”.

So we asked VicRoads:

• When will the postponed full weekend bridge closure be re-scheduled?

• Have you any dates for later full closures?

• What caused the delay to the originally planned closure?

• When will the whole works be completed?

• What is the schedule for further power outages when your electrical subcontractors need to do further work?

• Do you have any indication of when the traffic lights will be going in on the north side?

Vince Punaro, Regional Director Metro North West, VicRoads told the Diary “At this stage, we have not confirmed any further dates for full closures of the bridge.

“Any lane closures on the bridge will be shared well in advance with the local community and scheduled to minimise inconvenience.”

Cameron Tait, Media Advisor Public Engagement, VicRoads, offered some further information:

“The installation of traffic lights at the Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road and Research-Warrandyte Road intersection is expected to get underway in July.

“All works on the Warrandyte Bridge upgrade are scheduled to be completed by late 2018.”

The April Information Update Bulletin does not tell us much more than the March bulletin, other than that they will shortly be building a new retaining wall on the north side of the bridge, but it does indicate that the first full weekend closure is likely to be rescheduled for “late April/early May”.

VicRoads Strategic Engagement Advisor, Jacqueline Novoselac, insists that there are no problems, work
is continuing on the bridge and
that the project is not running
behind schedule.

However, the lack of activity on the bridge structure, ongoing postponements of the full closure, and the subtle change of the date for completion, previously September but now “late 2018” would suggest otherwise.

Any further delays might well drive this project into the next bushfire season.

Obviously something is amiss to have caused a two-month slippage of the closure for installation of cantilevers and beams, and we are not being told the reason.

In view of the significant traffic disruption and as public funds are being spent on this project, the public has a right to be kept better informed of progress and reasons for any delays.

The Diary will keep readers informed on any proposed road closures, as and when information comes to hand, either via this publication, the Diary website or social media channels.

Warrandyte road rage

SEVERE SPEED humps to the north of the bridge — an attempt to calm traffic and make a temporary pedestrian crossing safer — are potentially exacerbating traffic congestion as vehicles are forced to slow to a crawl to clear the traffic calming measures installed in early March.

In the busy hours, school and work commuters — on both sides of the bridge — can be delayed by anything up to 30 minutes.

In the morning, queues north of the river stretch back as far as Albert Road on Research-Warrandyte Road and Floods Road on Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road.

While the evening queues south of the river stretch back as far as the roundabout at Harris Gully Road and to the five-ways Croydon Road junction on Ringwood-Warrandyte Road.

VicRoads vehemently denies that any lengthening of queues is due to the speed humps, and blame any increased queues on the disruption to the Hurstbridge line train service which they say is causing more traffic in the area.

Queues have slackened off considerably in the last fortnight due to the school holidays, but congestion is expected to return to previous levels as of this week.

Additional congestion may also occur on April 18 when the power pole at the RSL is due to be replaced.

The increased queues are causing major headaches for residents on the unsealed roads in North Warrandyte, with many “rat run” drivers ignoring the “No Turn” signs at each end of Blooms Road in an attempt to find a short cut.

Eltham Police have been kept busy booking motorists who ignore these signs but are too busy to attend on a daily basis.

Dingley Dell Road has probably copped the worst of the rat run traffic with motorists from both directions attempting to use this narrow winding street as a shortcut.

But with the morning queues extending further up Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road, a number of motorists are now turning into Floods Road and cutting through Boyd Street and Hawkes Road.

Michelle Parker from Hawkes Road is now on first name terms with the tow-truck drivers as two cars have already fallen into the ditch near her house, and she dreads the day there may be a head-on collision on the blind corner.

She adds, “You should see the chaos on Monday mornings when the rat run drivers meet the garbage truck!”

Suzanne Reid from Dingley Dell Road tells a similar story.

She and other residents are already upset that the signs preventing turns into Blooms Road make it virtually impossible for her to legally get back to her house before 9:30am after dropping children at school in Research.

She would like a “Residents Excepted” sign to be added to the no turn signs.

Ms Reid goes on to say, “when I finally get back to my home on a Monday morning I can find three cars in my driveway because they have had to pull in to let the garbage truck pass.

“And this is a single-track, unsealed road with ditches at the side and with children and dogs walking on the roadway.

“We have to pay to have this road graded now four times a year”.

Because of these problems Mathew Deayton, Manager, Infrastructure at Nillumbik Council has written to residents of Dingley Dell Road seeking their views on a proposal that the street be closed off completely to through traffic.

The plan involves installing a permanent obstruction at the top of Dingley Dell Road.

This would prevent all traffic — including Dingley Dell residents — from turning into Dingley Dell Road from Blooms Road.

Provision would be made for emergency service vehicles and waste collection vehicles.

The opinion of residents is being sought before any decision is made.

Ms Reid tells us that the idea is well-intentioned but as proposed is completely impractical.

As a number of the homes in the street have no provision for cars to turn around on the property, and angled driveways prevent a U-turn on entry and exit, this idea would require cars to reverse a long way down the difficult hill before they would be able to turn.

Affected residents have until April 20 to fill in a questionnaire or make a submission to council.