Following the overwhelming response requesting that Council be informed of the community’s concerns with inadequate parking in Berry, the Forum Committee has sent the letter below to Council executives and all councillors –

To: Jane Lewis, Director City LifestylesHaving received many complaints about the lack of parking and risk to pedestrians at Boongaree, the Forum Committee requested feedback from the community on 20 March to the following questions –

  1. Should Council be informed that its refusal to address the parking impacts of the flawed staging plan for Boongaree is unacceptable?
  2. Should Council’s offer of “consultation to confirm the Community’s perspective” on the location of the long vehicle parking area be taken up?

We received 131 responses from over two hundred residents, answering YES to both questions, and only 4 responses answering NO. BackgroundWhen the ‘Nature Playground’ was first proposed in 2015 the Forum assisted Rotary by providing a platform to gather community support. A key driver was the concern that numbers of tourists would fall when they no longer needed to drive through the town after the opening of the Berry bypass. However, tourist and visitor numbers did not decline after the bypass opened in 2017, and proceeded to grow significantly as Berry became a destination for many families. Over the last two years, the scale of the influx has been clouded by the impact of Covid, although during periods when restrictions were lifted it was clear that lack of parking was a very significant issue.When the Master Plan was last presented to the Forum in October 2018 it was assumed that adequate parking was planned for the scheduled opening of the Nature Park. The Staging Plan added to Council’s website in 2019 gave no indication that parking had been deferred to the later stages of the project. Consequently, with no consideration given to the lack of parking availability resulting from the significant growth in visitor numbers, the opening of the Nature Playground with minimal parking severely exacerbated the severity of problems for both visitors and residents.The current location of the LV parking area in the Master Plan has never been endorsed by the Forum. It was derived from the workshop initiated by the Forum four years ago, which had a sole objective of working out how all the activities in the overall park area could be accommodated. It was not tasked with checking whether the location of each individual activity was appropriate and supported by the community.Current SituationThere is now significant risk of serious injury to pedestrians attempting to walk along or across North Street, and nowhere for Berry residents to park in daylight hours from Friday to Sunday or during school holidays. This is unacceptable and must be addressed by Council with urgency.The ‘update’ provided on the Get Involved page on 25 March states that Council “understand the frustrations”. That is not reflected in the “current options being investigated” however, or the statement that “we don’t think fast-tracking the final carparks will help”.Recommendations

  • The Master Plan staging to be adapted to address the current severe parking constraints, which will get a lot worse as Instagram messages draw ever-increasing numbers of visitors to Berry. Council cannot persist with a plan that prioritises construction of more attractions that will further increase visitor numbers.
  • The remaining parking in Stage 1 (which formalises the area to the east of the new car park, which people are still using as a car park) to be built before any further work occurs.
  • The remaining parking on the south side of the eastern sporting fields, currently in Stage 7, to be incorporated into the grant and funding packages being worked on for Stages 2 and 3 (Skate Park and Pump Track).
  • Additional limited-time parking spaces behind the IGA to be considered to allow residents to do their shopping. This could only be effective if regular checking by Council staff is organised.
  • Appropriate consultation to be arranged to gauge the community’s perspective on the appropriate location for long vehicle parking.  The consultation period need not be long, and any amendment of the Master Plan not difficult to undertake.

The Berry Forum Committeehttps://berryforum.org.au/David Carter (Chair), Ian Hendry (Vice-Chair), Stuart Coughlan (Secretary), Laurie Watson (Treasurer), Mary Beare (Minutes Secretary), Geoff Armstrong, Judith Ball, Robyn Baxendale, David Brawn, Garry Broadbridge, Heather Macdonald, Gail Paton, Emanuele Rattazzi.