By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Residents are loudly and passionately calling for changes to the draft design of Keysborough South Community Hub.
Eighty-nine public submissions have been received by Greater Dandenong Council for the project in Tatterson Park.
Add to that a 100-plus-strong online petition demanding for the hub to include a library branch, a café, informal working spaces and an arts and crafts ‘makers wet area’.
Councillors have also been bombarded by a passionate, belated residents’ campaign to shift the hub’s site from the corner of Chapel and Villiers roads.
Campaign organiser Dom Boccari says the site is needlessly expensive. It will build over a two-year-old dog park, which is now being replaced by another new dog park and car park nearby.
Surrounding residents fear the extra traffic at the “dangerous” adjoining intersection and congesting the narrow Villiers road, Mr Boccari says.
“Having a hub so close to the homes over the road is unacceptable.”
The council unanimously opted for the site in November 2019, engaging an architect to design the building in early 2020.
But it should heed the narrow majority of respondents to an earlier community survey who preferred a site at Springers Leisure Centre (269 votes to 264), Mr Boccari said.
He has called for the council to reconsider the site and halt works at the replacement dog park in the meantime.
“I believe Council have stuffed up big time here. They never thought this through.
“We can’t let council waste our rates.”
Meanwhile, resident and petition organiser Caitlin Ryan fears the campaign will further delay a badly-needed facility that has been eight years in the making.
She says the present site is ideal, central and prominent among Keysborough South estates.
Ms Ryan wants a change in the hubs’ services and facilities to cater for “families, couples and singles of all ages”.
“The draft design is too heavily weighted towards children’s services in an area where four new private childcare providers have or will be opening.
“It’s important that this hub is built right the first time to ensure that it is successful from the day it opens and into the future.”
The petitioners are calling for a small library branch, more informal co-working and study areas, arts and crafts facilities, and a cafe to attract more visitors.
Councillor Matthew Kirwan said the dog park argument was now a moot point – given the second dog park, its seating, fences and shelters were all but finished.
Its signage, water fountains and tree planting would be complete by the end of July, he said.
Cr Kirwan said the “high profile, highly visible” location was vital to “maximise the success of a community hub”.
The “tucked away” Springers venue would not have the same drawing power.
He added the current site would also be close to public transport links, including a planned bus route for 2022.
Cr Kirwan played down the impact of the hub on Chapel Road’s congestion issues.
“Chapel Road has an interesting traffic dynamic – 95 per cent of the time it’s dead as anything, it’s a very quiet road.
“What’s unusual about Chapel Road is it’s only busy between 8.15am-8.45am.”
That peak traffic was unlikely to be affected by a community centre opening 12 hours a day, Cr Kirwan said.
According to a council report, the Keysborough estates’ population had surged from 5516 residents in 2012 to 11,838 in 2019.
It had caused a demand for community services such as early years’ children’s services, meeting rooms and activities hub for the area, the report stated.