Razzmatazz at Leongatha station
THERE was a hive of activity at the Leongatha Railway Station on Saturday morning, not seen since the last passenger train rolled out of town years ago.
No, the train isn’t returning just yet, but that didn’t stop the many people around to voice their opinions on what should happen to the Leongatha railway land.
With the help of the Inverloch Horn Jam and later the South Gippsland Shire Brass Band, people were drawn to the precinct to give South Gippsland Shire Council feedback on the land at its Ideas Fair and car boot sale and various displays.
As the State Government currently has no plans for the return of the train service to Leongatha, council has the opportunity to take over the lease of the railway land and to improve the Leongatha railway site and surrounds.
The turnout was wonderful with walls filled with ideas and opinions, the Leongatha community exceptionally passionate and eager to express its suggestions.
“Unfortunately the railway site had to close and now we have this big piece of land in the middle of town owned by the government,” council’s manager of planning Paul Stampton said.
“The point of the ideas fair is to get as many people’s opinions and ideas as possible so we can make drawings and designs for the use of this area.”
The main ideas expressed included an expansion of the Great Southern Rail Trail, multiple access points from Bair Street, an arts centre, a car park and a market area.
“I think it should be made into a rail trail through to Korumburra and toilets are definitely needed,” Jenni Rose from Berrys Creek said.
Other ideas were a laser tag/paintball arena, an outdoor cinema, an off leashes dog walk and play area, a festival area and a restaurant precinct.
Several members of the community are disheartened to see the railway site transform into something different.
They believe the site should be kept in the hope of a train service to eventually return.
Hundreds of different ideas were noted on Saturday.
Building a ramp or even an arcade to create access from Bair Street seemed to be a priority on most people’s list, along with car, truck and caravan parking.
A percentage of people suggested the old railway station to be transformed into a restaurant or cafe, using an old train as the dining area.
It was suggested that an old style drinking area was somewhat incorporated in the designs for the older generation who would prefer that rather than the towns pubs.
An exclusive place where people can relax and enjoy the inviting atmosphere was said to be ideal.
Ideas ranged from a bike education school, backpacker accommodation or the site of the Leongatha Men’s Shed to an open air stage for festivals and market area.
People believe there aren’t enough activities for teenagers to enjoy in the town and that a games area or activities such as bowling, laser tag, paintball or go karts would be appropriate, and would also act as a tourism attraction for the town.
Nature enthusiasts proposed a walking track with a beautiful botanical garden that has fountains and picnic/BBQ areas.
A large amount of people want the old station to be renovated into a historical railway museum to retain the history.
Other suggestions included moving the coach terminal to another part of town to open up the land between Long Street and the station and converting the current station building into a Station Cafe.
Council has a lot to think about and will come back to the community once all ideas have been distilled.
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