Merrigum community up in arms

Members of the Merrigum Community Group are concerned a piece of real estate will be used for a new fire station.

November 30, 2012 4:22am

The proposed site of the new fire station in Merrigum.

Merrigum Community Group members are concerned the only available piece of ‘‘prime real estate’’ in the town will be used for a new fire station.

Merrigum Fire Brigade has for some time been looking for a new site, after the County Fire Authority approved plans for a new station to replace the old one in Waverley Ave, which was unable to house larger fire trucks.

The issue was raised at the group’s meeting on November 14, where the lack of consultation between the two groups became a sticking point.

Merrigum Community Group president Ken Phillips said until the meeting, few people in Merrigum would have been aware the land, considered by the group to be an ideal site for possible future development of a supermarket, general store or shops, had been purchased by the CFA.

‘‘As far as I know, no-one was even aware the block was for sale,’’ he said.

‘‘The purchase just came out of the blue.

‘‘The sale takes any potential future development away, making it harder to encourage people to Merrigum.’’

Mr Phillips said while future development of the site for commercial purposes might be a ‘‘pipe-dream’’, the strong Asian community in the area often saw opportunities others did not.

‘‘It is not beyond the realms of possibility,’’ he said.

While acknowledging the work done, and money spent by Greater Shepparton City Council in Merrigum in recent years, Mr Phillips said the community felt let down by council for not notifying people of the proposed land purchase.

Residents have until this Friday to submit objections to Greater Shepparton City Council planning department.

Merrigum Fire Brigade captain John Sullivan confirmed the land purchase.

He said as a brigade member and community member, he was sympathetic to the situation, adding the site could not be locked up forever in the hope someone might come along and put up a supermarket.

Mr Sullivan said the brigade was running out of time to find a suitable location for the new station.

‘‘If the brigade didn’t act this financial year, there is every likelihood we would have lost the funding and may have had to wait several years to get new funding, something we could not afford to do,’’ he said.

Mr Sullivan said the new station, which would comprise meeting rooms available for community use, would not only clean up the corner, but would be a resource for the Merrigum community.

He said people have the opportunity to voice their opinion following the lodgement of a planning permit to Greater Shepparton City Council by the CFA.

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