Sunday, September 28, 2014

Priorities for Geelong

from w
A wrtier in the Geelong Advertiser looks at what Geelong really needs, not what one or two people WANT.

The  new  library  in Geelong  is going  up  - here's  what  it  is expected  to  look  like.

What are the real priorities for Geelong?

·         SEPTEMBER 29, 2014 1:00AM

“IF we as a city do not know what we are fighting for, we will not get it,” Cr Stretch Kontelj said before moving an unsuccessful amendment at the City of Greater Geelong council meeting last week, to reinstate the Yarra St pier, as its No. 1 funding priority. But a majority of councillors and not only the usual opponents of Mayor Darryn Lyons — who has carried the torch for the pier — voted to bring it back to equal billing with seven other priority projects on the council wishlist.
Just what are the real priorities for Geelong?
First, I would reckon a council that puts politics aside and acts in the best interests of the whole community.
 Secondly, while it is probably a bonus to Geelong to have a flamboyant and outspoken Mayor, at the end of the day, under the current system, he must be able to motivate his fellow councillors to support him. And they should remember the vast majority of ratepayers elected him because he promised to get things done.
Cr Lyons is finding out, as former mayor Keith Fagg did before him, that it is not easy to get everyone on board at City Hall. .
Paradoxically, the City of Greater Geelong needs leadership and unity and a group of councillors prepared to look outside their wards at the big picture items that will have a positive spin-off, particularly in economic and employment terms, for the whole region.
I believe Cr Lyons has attempted to use his position to give leadership, but I also have no doubt there is some hostility to what might be perceived by some as his “one-man band” approach to getting Geelong up and running.
But, in this instance, he has held out an olive branch and expressed pleasure that council “reaffirmed Yarra St pier as a top-funding priority project”.
“The pier and convention centre will be a major economic driver for the region, delivering jobs and direct economic benefit to local businesses,” Cr Lyons said.
So, where do we go from here?
While not being opposed to it, I have had my doubts about the Yarra St pier when we already have the Cunningham Pier apparently capable of hosting cruise liners.
Why spend $30 million if you can achieve a similar result with an outlay of $2 million?
And, does that $30 million include dredging a channel to the new pier, or is that tens of millions of dollars more? I understand there is already a channel to Cunningham Pier that liners have used in the past.
Should we be giving top priority to eight projects — most of which have been paraded around for a decade or more — or be more selective and concentrate on fewer and really prioritise them, especially in terms of their economic and employment impact?
In all the debate in recent days, none of our councillors appears to have quoted anything from Enterprise Geelong Opportunity, which surely must have a major brief for getting Geelong up and running. Its website is a mine of information and should attract widespread interest from potential investors.
And, with the state election looming, G21 has certainly been pushing its priority projects — incorporating those of the CoGG — and it has had some responses from both major parties.
Also last week, a Geelong deputation visited Queensland to push the region’s case for the $10 billion Land 400 armoured vehicle project.
This, too, is one of the region’s priority projects.
Another priority project is $2.5 million for a feasibility study and business plan for a Geelong convention and exhibition centre. Has the CoGG followed up its “informal” meeting with Lawrence Elms relating to his proposed convention centre-hotel-apartment development below Eastern Park?
He saw it as a private development that would not cost ratepayers-taxpayers anything.
Avalon and GPAC are notable absences from the priority projects selected by councillors, but both are important to the future of Geelong.
Maybe last week’s Yarra St pier shake-up was needed to prompt all of us to give more thought to where we are headed and what our priorities should be


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