By Justin Flynn
More than 6000 households in Ocean Grove will fork out $507 to partially fund a 25.2 kilometre network of footpaths under a proposed shared funding model announced by the City of Greater Geelong.
Council is proposing that the city and ratepayers jointly fund the Principal Pedestrian Network (PPN), with council tipping in $3.65 million and ratepayers footing the remaining $3.17 million.
There are 6245 rateable properties in the town that will help pay for the network.
Council said the Special Charge Scheme (SCS) was supported by a majority of property owners who participated in community engagement.
Council sent 5644 letters to ratepayers for feedback with 1035 valid surveys received, a response rate of 18.3 per cent.
However, the move has been met with anger from many ratepayers who voiced their concern on social media this week.
Some of the concerns were from residents who objected to having to pay when their properties do not front any of the PPN.
Others wanted council to fund the entire project while some residents said they didn’t want a footpath outside their house.
Of the $3.65 million that council is investing in the project, $440,000 is for width upgrades to new shared paths and $45,000 for the city’s own property charges.
Council considers the network of walking paths to have broad community benefit, saying it will improve accessibility, pedestrian safety, encourage healthier lifestyles and reduce car dependence.
The total project includes 25.2km of new paths, with new sections added to the network’s original 22.8km.
The additional footpath sections include: Wallington Road; Presidents Avenue (in front of Ocean Grove Park); Tuckfield Street East; Shell Road West; Orton Street South (Sweetman Parade to Presidents Avenue); Field Street South; The Parade (Wallington Road to Field Street South); Begola Wetlands; and Collendina Reserve.
The network also includes a 1.4km shared walking-cycling path along the length of Tuckfield Street from Shell Road to Ocean Throughway, and shared paths through Kingston Park, Begola Wetlands, Collendina Reserve and extensions to the Peers Crescent riverside shared path.
Affected property owners will be directly contacted with information on how and when they can provide their feedback, council said.
Bellarine ward councillor Jim Mason encouraged all affected property owners to provide their feedback on the proposed scheme.
“Previous community consultation has shown there are a multitude of views about how this significant project should be rolled out,” Cr Mason said.
“We are keen to hear from everyone about how we can best deliver these public improvements in a fair manner.”
Construction of the project would likely start after July 2023 and would need to be completed within five years, council said.