Welcome to 2022!

Tony Penna

I hope our community was able to find some much-deserved time away or to get out and about before Omicron started to settle in. Sadly, just when we thought we were there, we seemed to have gone back into a self-imposed lockdown. I have noticed the streets around Southbank and the CBD are still very quiet compared to pre-COVID.

Since my last column, much has been happening. We continued our discussion with the City of Melbourne and Department of Transport regarding the safety of Power St’s City Rd and Kavanagh St intersections. We have been able to achieve some modifications to the light sequence at Kavanagh St. Next time you are there you might notice the green man is given a few seconds before the intersection lights change, thereby giving the pedestrians a head-start. While this is only a small modification it is nevertheless an important one and certainly assists. SRA will continue to advocate for change to this intersection.

Just before Christmas the neighbourhood park of the Southbank Boulevard upgrade between Fawkner St and City Rd (next to Australia 108) was completed – finally. This is the “boardwalk” park – according to the plans. However, I am not sure if you noticed, but the metal grate walkway is far from the “boardwalk” renders that were being proposed for this space. We were contacted by numerous members of the community who were also inquisitive if this was the actual finished product or if there was something more. In particular the metal grate for a walkway was the stand-out concern. What is there is sadly the finished product. We were not satisfied with this and went back to council with our concerns.

SRA has been a strong advocate for this project for almost 10 years when the first discussions began. We were heavily involved with the community consultation, and it troubles us that this component of the space is far from what was being proposed. A boardwalk is exactly that – a “board” walk. After deliberations with the project team, it has indicated the contractor will be recalled to replace the metal with a more suitable finish. What this will look like I am not sure but rest assured SRA will keep engaging with the council for a suitable outcome, but thus far we are grateful it has recognised the differences from the proposal and are keen to have it addressed. But the question needs to be asked – how this was able to occur in the first place? While I have asked the council, I am not expecting any response with much substance. But it is certainly positive the Southbank Boulevard project is making progress with the final pocket park works with the children’s play space between Kavanagh and Fawkner streets expected to begin this month.

However, more concerning for many of our residents will be the e-scooter trial that has just launched. Our community seems to be divided on e-scooters. Many have embraced them while many others find them annoying and a safety hazard, particularly when driven down footpaths at high speeds. So, I suppose the question is, how can e-scooters co-exist harmoniously within a community? I certainly don’t have the answer to this question but would like to hear from our community. The City of Melbourne has reached out to SRA and requested we are part of the discussion with the trial. We have started this discussion with the e-scooter operators to understand how they are managing their scooters and their intention within the community. Likewise, they are hoping SRA will be able to provide feedback from a resident’s perspective so the model can be tweaked where possible. If you have any experiences you would like to share, we would love to hear from you. All feedback will be a valuable contribution to the outcome of this trial.

I have also started a conversation with the Lord Mayor with regard to delivery bikes and our footpaths. This is not a problem that is unique to Southbank, but other parts of the municipality have raised similar concerns. In many ways this discussion will also tie in with the e-scooters. But I felt it was important the Lord Mayor is aware this is a growing concern within our community.

SRA has an exciting year planned – COVID permitting. Our volunteer committee is excited to hopefully be able to get back out into our community and bring everyone together with the long-awaited postponed Community Day. We also have other exciting announcements to make in the coming months. Watch this space for more information.

If you have some time and would like to assist us with the community day, we would be delighted to hear from you, and if you would like to provide feedback for the e-scooter trial you can reach us at [email protected]. If you would like to show your support and become a member, it is only $10/year via our website – southbankresidents.org.au. Without members our voice is merely a whisper •

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