Moe debate comes to a boil

One of Latrobe City Council’s most controversial moves since its formation will this evening come to a head.

Councillors will decide whether or not to push forward with plans to revitalise Moe’s town centre after a three-month review saw the project put on ice.

A council officer’s report, which examined the results of the review, has recommended council stick to its original plans for the revamp of its railway precinct, including construction of a community hub and library, skate park and bus interchange.

But the final decision will lie with councillors, and pressure is mounting from Moe business groups for them to honour the results of the review and resume work to attract funding for the project.

Committee for Moe president Manny Gelagotis said it was council’s chance to “either save the town or sink it”.

“What we see is overwhelming general support for this project as it stands, it’s time to make a decision that benefits the Latrobe Valley and Moe,” Mr Gelagotis said.

“This council will be put under the microscope, totally and thoroughly on every angle by the Moe community. They need to deliver the right result.”

Moe and District Residents Association member Cheryl Wragg, whose group opposed aspects of the plan including moving the library from Kirk Street to the railway precinct and what it described as a lack of transport infrastructure, said she was disappointed with the way the review was conducted.

She said the public council meeting last month during which 18 people spoke their views for up to six minutes, was not sufficient.

“The people with a genuine interest who made considered submissions to the review should have had the opportunity to sit down with relevant council officers and councillors to have a proper discussion,” Ms Wragg said.

“There was no disagreement about the project going forward, the matters of contention were about design elements and yet there was no real opportunity for discussion about those.”

The meeting at the Moe Town Hall was an opportunity for previous submitters to the revitalisation project to speak to council about whether their views had changed.

Council documents released on Thursday, revealed of the people who took part in the review process, 27.3 per cent indicated they were still concerned about some components of the project, as they were in their original submissions.

More than 54 per cent re-affirmed their support of the project going ahead in its current form, while 18.2 per cent had moved from having concerns about the project, to fully supporting it.

Residents are expected to once again pack Moe’s town hall where a special meeting to consider the results of the review will commence at 5.30pm tonight.

The vote will likely be left to seven of the nine councillors, as Cr Sandy Kam and Cr Dale Harriman have historically declared an interest in the issue and not voted.

Cr Peter Gibbons spearheaded the review in December, supported by fellow Moe-based Cr Sharon Gibson, along with Crs Christine Sindt and Michael Rossiter. It was opposed by Crs Darrell White, Kellie O’Callaghan and Graeme Middlemiss.