Complaints about illegal dumping and fires at Rochester's Aysons Reserve have led Campaspe Shire to hold a meeting about its future.By Elaine Cooney
Rochester Ward councillor Leigh Wilson will meet with concerned residents near Aysons Reserve next month to discuss its future.
Cr Wilson said he visited the reserve on Wednesday when he received a call from a resident near the reserve about illegal dumping and fires.
Cr Wilson said in the past, Campaspe Shire received similar complaints and said it had been working to rectify issues.
‘‘It’s not an easy fix as it (the reserve) is crown land,’’ he said.
Campaspe Shire services the toilet facility and maintains the grounds.
‘‘I would hate to see the reserve locked up but if we can’t work out some good policy then worst-case scenario (is) we would have to look at shutting out camping,’’ he said.
Cr Wilson said he was concerned that the reserve might be a cost burden on ratepayers and would like to do a community survey on how much money the reserve was bringing to Rochester.
‘‘I don’t think we are getting enough money from the people staying there,’’ he said.
However, reserve visitor Gary Donaldson said he did his shopping daily in Rochester and Elmore.
‘‘Everyone goes in (to town) and buys stuff,’’ he said.
Fellow reserve visitor Debbie Monti said many people were going to town for parts when their boats broke down, while Des Rhook said he spends weeks at a time at the reserve and said he always does his shopping in Rochester.
Cr Wilson said during his visit to the reserve he and a member of the Elmore Fire Brigade saw two illegal fires, which campers were told to extinguish.
‘‘There only needs to be one fire and it would definitely result in a loss of property and potentially a loss of life,’’ he said.
He said he noticed one abandoned tent as well as a portable toilet surrounded by a tent that appeared to be abandoned.
Mr Wilson said other campers were trying to contact the owner of the toilet so they could remove it.
Cr Wilson said he saw evidence of people staying at the reserve on a long-term basis, which was illegal.
‘‘While people use this facility, what about our local caravan park where people pay money?’’ he said.
When asked if he would prefer people chose to pay for the Rochester Caravan Park than use the free facility he said he would ‘‘rather see a balance’’.
He said he was unaware if Campaspe Shire was seeking to purchase the land from the State Government.
He said flood repairs planned for the toilet block would still go ahead in the reserve as money was allocated to it.
As well as an abandoned box of rubbish at the outskirts of the reserve, he believed one caravan to be in breach of the health act as the grey water pipe was near the river.
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