By Jed Lanyon
A group of Warburton residents believe their concerns over a major mountain bike project in their town are being overlooked.
Work is currently underway to construct the Warburton Mountain Bike Destination, which will feature 160 kilometres of tracks and will transform Warburton into a world-class mountain biking precinct, but Warburton resident Karen Duke believes the plans have been rushed through without the community’s approval.
“They (Warburton residents) want a referendum, they want a Q&A with the council, they want people to come out and talk to them,” Ms Duke said.
Ms Duke co-created a Facebook group Connecting 3799 to help put out information online and through mail to Warburton and surrounding residents.
“We’re some residents who got sick and tired of the lack of information going up and down the line.”
She welcomes anyone from the 3799 postcode Wesburn through to Warburton and Reefton to get involved with the group.
Ms Duke said that her consultation within the group held concerns that contradict council’s initial Warburton Place Plan.
“The feedback that we have got is 90 per cent in the negative. And that is people that live in the area,” she said.
“It’s going up faster than a McDonalds drive through. It isn’t being consulted correctly. We have so many people in the area who know so much that is not being tapped into.”
Ms Duke spoke at the 22 October council meeting and held concerns that the community feedback regarding the Warburton Place Plan was not accurately represented as some residents were not informed due to information being sent out electronically.
The development of the place plan was approved at the meeting, which will be used to help shape major projects like the Warburton Mountain Bike Destination.
Yarra Ranges Council director of environment and infrastructure, Mark Varmalis said, “Council has held a number of drop-in sessions for the community in the last two years regarding the Warburton Mountain Bike Destination.
“This has included plenty of opportunities to have questions answered by staff in drop-in sessions, including a series of these in June, 2018 in Warburton, Montrose, Wesburn and Yarra Junction.
“Council advertised its drop-in sessions and updates electronically through council’s website, the Ride Yarra Ranges website and social media, along with posters at the Upper Yarra Arts Centre and information and advertisements in local newspapers.”
Mr Varmalis said that council had received valuable feedback from residents from the Mountain Bike Destination Project regarding the initial alignment of certain trails and their proximity to residential and heritage areas such as the Old Warburton Cemetery.
“As a result of this feedback, we’ve re-aligned trails away from these areas,” Mr Varmalis said.
Mr Varmalis dispelled any rumours that bike trails would run through the Redwood Forest in East Warburton.
“Ground truthing is currently taking place along the proposed trail alignment, to ensure that the proposed trails do not impact environmentally and historically significant areas.
“Though we have no drop-in dates slated for coming months, we always welcome community members’ comments, questions or conversations.”
For more information about the mountain bike project, visit rideyarraranges.com.au or contact the project team on 1300 368 333 or firstname.lastname@example.org.