The Oberon Review polled its readers on the issues they consider most important in the community for the upcoming local council elections on December 4.
This week, we look at infrastructure. An email was sent to each candidate on Monday, November 8 asking for their response.
Candidates Neil Francis and Sig Sovik didn't respond by the required deadline.
During this term there has been a huge investment in Infrastructure from Govt grants including the Fitness Centre and upgrade to the Pool area. I provided input to the Management Agreement for the Fitness Centre and Pool to ensure that our contractor manages both efficiently and makes necessary improvements There have been upgrades to village halls, playground upgrades throughout the Council area and Bores installed at Black Springs and O'ConnelI.
In the next term Council projects include the Community Hub, O'Connell Recreation Ground and the proposed new Oberon Sports Centre all of which I have provided considerable commercial input. One of the projects that may be under the radar is the new Sewer Treatment Plant (STP) that will be constructed in the new term. I have been on the STP subcommittee and have worked with staff and other Council representatives to have this project approved by state Govt and to have it managed internally correctly. The current Sewer plant is beyond its life of type and is inadequate. The new plant is crucial for residents, business and our tourist industry in Oberon Town.
My training as a lawyer and Commercial Director has given me an ability to ask the necessary questions and to review projects forensically to ensure proper design and adherence to price, quality and schedule. I will continue to work with Council to obtain grants for other infrastructure projects
We really need health facilities upgraded, crisis Care Accommodation, palliative care. Water security is huge on my agenda, and hydro power along with solar installations, an upgrade to the local sewerage treatment plant within reason.
I want to push for a cultural heritage Centre and gardens within our Common. A dog off leash area in town that is accessible to all young and old within walking distance, down near the amphitheatre is not practical, the Common is practical though and so much space to locate it as well. Cycle tracks, walking tracks more activities that are going to be inclusive and accessible for all.
Along with roads, the construction and maintenance of various other forms of physical infrastructure has made up the bulk of my career in local government. I worked at seven municipal authorities in five states and territories over a period of 38 years.
Oberon's water supply has seen significant improvement over the past 25 years, with the construction of the water treatment plant, and replacement of old water mains. I aim to continue and complete the mains replacement program, which has drastically reduced disruptions caused by broken mains. I will also seek advice on possible upgrades to the water treatment plant to reduce the occasional dirty water problems.
Stormwater drainage, by its nature, tends not to receive much public attention. However there is significant room for improvements to Oberon's drainage system, with more frequent cleaning of pipes, and increasing the capacity of pits to better cope with peak flows.
The Town Improvement Fund was established to implement capital works projects which would provide permanent benefits to the residents in the area where the rate is collected. I will ensure it is only used for its intended purpose. If not enough projects can be identified which achieve substantial benefits to town residents, the Town Improvement Rate should be reduced or eliminated.
I would also like Council to investigate the upgrading of creek crossings on rural roads to reduce the frequency of road closures during heavy rain.
I am aware of the success of Oberon Council in attracting Federal and State grants for a range of infrastructure projects such as the new sewerage treatment plant and improvement to the sports ground, gymnasium and pool.
I strongly support these initiatives as they enable Council to make efficient use of its own funds while taking advantage of State and Federal funds for the benefit of the community.
The infrastructure and leisure facilities we have in Oberon and the ongoing grants and funding that have been awarded to date shows, I believe, that this is an area of focus by the current Council for what they have achieved for the size of our LGA.
Our facilities and the future projects are making the Oberon LGA a very liveable area and attracting new residents of all ages with what we have on offer with the trend to leave the cities to look for a better lifestyle in the regions.
There are already very strong relationships with State and Federal Government, and it is important to continue to support and build on these relationships. I have formed relationships with our State and Federal Members in my work in the community and I would continue to foster those relationships and be a strong advocate to ensure Oberon is a priority for future funding and successful grant applications.
For the size of the population of the area, Oberon has wonderful leisure facilities. Improvement in infrastructure and leisure facilities have received much attention by the current and previous council and it is important to keep this moving forward. Facilities such as the Common, Sport and Leisure centre, Sporting fields and the Skate park are all important facilities for both local residents and visitors and add to the many activities available in the area.
In looking to the future it is important to respond to the needs of the community and continue to find out what else is needed and to make sure the facilities we have are well maintained. The current council has been very responsive to community feedback in planning infrastructure and pursuing State grants.
I look forward to working with community groups to plan and implement future infrastructure projects
As a Councillor, I have strongly supported the development of community infrastructure, and wish to continue driving this progress in the new Council. The skate park and new gym beside the pool were the first achieved. I am determined that much more will be completed to our community's benefit. These projects (already funded and included in budgets) are:
- A new recreation ground for O'Connell, starting within weeks
- A combined Community Centre and Library replacing the current library and inadequate facilities in the existing community centre
- Two new mountain bike trails, due to be completed in 2022.
- An off-leash dog park for both residents and visitors to exercise pets.
- Ongoing improvements to the Common according to the established Master Plan
- A "once in every fifty years"public work, the new Sewage Treatment Plant commencing construction in 2022 will replace our ageing facility.
I am committed to achieving a new community sporting complex, to be located east of the O'Connell Rd roundabout, to include "all sports" club rooms and facilities, (for use by all sports organisations throughout the district for functions, presentation events, meetings etc), alongside netball courts, rugby league grounds and hopefully a hockey pitch. Substantial funding has already been secured.
This infrastructure will improve quality of life for the community, counteract the desire for some to move to places with more leisure options, perhaps entice people back to Oberon and make it a more attractive place for new arrivals.
Smaller rural towns rely heavily on key infrastructure like roads, bridges, footpaths, water and sewerage, open spaces such as walking and cycling tracks and sporting facilities. I will continue to campaign for the installation of footpaths, safe & accessible access to community spaces and facilities.
The need to upgrade the Sewerage Treatment Plant has been identified as a priority to service our growth and provide an efficient and up to date plant.I would like to see a system of waste water recycling or storm water harvesting included in this project.
Water security is also an issue and I will continue lobbying Council and Government Departments for the installation of a pipeline from the Duckmaloi Weir to Oberon Dam.
Forward planning by identifying land use needs for infrastructure to cope with future growth is required.
I remain focused, for the moment, on the activities of Oberon Tarana Heritage Railway (OTHR) I am happy to say that we have grant applications out there at the present time to improve the buildings on our heritage on North Street. We also have plans to improve and recreate some of the historic structures at Hazelgrove. Given that OTHR has committed grant monies of $1.8 million for:
- refurbishment of the Oberon-Hazelgrove section of the line to Tarana
- restoration work on three pieces of rolling stock.
I make that the claim that I understand how to make grant applications, how to find out which grants are available for Infrastructure Projects and the rigour that must be undertaken to be successful.
I understand that Council produces a document that is continually updated at reasonable intervals. This is called the "Strategic Plan" and looks efficient ways of improving town planning and in particular Infrastructure without creating bad debt.
As part of the council team, I will work to ensure that projects suitable to the town of Oberon are implemented according to the wishes of the community. These wishes are expressed as written submissions.
Past projects have included a fully funded Gym, Improvements to The Common, Improvements to sporting ovals including a fully funded grandstand. Fully funded construction of a skate park for younger community members is another.
There is the rebuilding of the Robert Hooper Community Centre and library complex into a new community hub, fully funded.
There are plans to build a state of the art sporting grounds with modern facilities on the outskirts of town inclusive of a number of sports many of which have struggled to maintain a presence and recognition in Oberon. These grounds and structures are fully funded. Infrastructure and leisure often go hand-in-hand in a small community.
If elected I would continue to work as part of the team that seeks to provide appropriate infrastructure with an eye on providing appropriate leisure activities
As an elected councillor I would work with the team of councillors to improve on the tourism, infrastructure, entertainment and housing as all these areas are important to our community.
I feel my priority is more focused on how we can improve on how to bring the Oberon LGA community's spirit back pre-COVID. The past two years have taken a toll on everyone mentality, emotionally and physically. The young, the elderly and all those in between. I feel we all need to get together so we can give the support which is needed. Being apart of the councillor team we can apply for funding and ideas needed to help unit us as a community.
I would like to keep short, simple and straight to the point. If re-elected on Council, I will aim to complete the Common and the new sports precinct.