ON Wednesday night Moe residents will gather in a bid to influence the design of their town’s revitalisation.
Previous submitters to an already protracted community consultation process will be re-called to indicate to Latrobe City Council whether their views remain the same.
Some will argue, while they may have had minor objections to certain aspects of the project in 2009, they’re willing to put aside their concerns to prevent the project from being stalled.
Others will not waiver from their opinion certain parts of the project need tweaking, most likely the location of the library and skate park, along with the number of parking spaces.
Council officers will use this information to come up with a recommendation on how to proceed.
Continue with the project as is and resume the hunt for government funding?
Or further explore some aspects of the plan?
Whatever the result, this council needs to honour the community’s decision.
Councillors need to honour the review process, regardless of whether the result differs from their personal opinion.
Sections of the community are losing faith in the consultation process.
Some argue it was undermined the moment the review of the Moe Activity Centre Plan was allowed to proceed.
And while many of those people will get to have their say in front of council on Wednesday – they feel hopeless.
They feel their voice is lost.
What’s to stop councillors from keeping the project on ice even if the review finds it should proceed with no change?
We saw it when the previous council ignored the recommendations of a $100,000 feasibility study and extensive public consultation in 2010 to entertain the idea of building a performing arts centre at Monash University’s Churchill campus.
The blatant disregard for the exhaustive process didn’t stand then and it shouldn’t stand in 2013.
Ignoring the community is the kind of behaviour newer members of the council would accuse some members of the previous administration of; those allied councillors known among their opponents as the “gang of five” because of their voting patterns.
I implore this new council to honour the consultation process and vote on 25 March in support of whatever the result of the review may be.
A move otherwise would totally undermine the notion of public consultation and further tarnish the council in the eyes of its community.