By Peter Douglas
The Olinda Parkland group is preparing to take their message to the masses, with a staged rally planned for Saturday 18 November at 10am.
With posters in hand, group members are planning to descend on the office of Monbulk MP James Merlino, to raise awareness about the future of the former Olinda Golf Course.
The group fears plans to develop the popular site into a sports precinct have been completed behind closed doors.
Group member Sandra Stephen said they wanted the public to be informed.
“This is a rallying call … people are stunned and cross at not being consulted. We want to explain to people what’s going on, so they can make up their own mind,” she said.
“People are angry. It’s not democratic, not very fair.”
Ms Stephen said during the initial public meeting about the future of the site, many people offered suggestions, but most wanted the site to remain untouched.
“You can see why people are so passionate. This is one of the only places left in the Dandenong Ranges where you can experience absolute and utter solitude,” she said.
“We want to preserve that land for perpetuity and we feel this is our responsibility.”
The Olinda Parkland group formed not long after that meeting.
The group believes plans are well underway to develop the site to include a football oval, basketball courts and multiple car parks.
They believe this will include digging out part of the site and the removal of trees.
Meanwhile, Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Ed O’Donohue, has leant his support to their cause, recently raising the issue in Victorian Parliament.
“The action I seek is that the Minister put on hold implementation of the Olinda precinct master plan until there is further community consultation about the implementation of the (Olinda precinct) master plan,” he told parliament.
“The beautiful Dandenong Ranges has one of the jewels in the crown in the precinct in Olinda.”
Mr O’Donohue said Parks Victoria had undertaken a process to examine the site’s best use, but questioned consultation processes.
“The master plan was published in May this year. To the shock of the local community, a very large fence was soon erected along the new boundary of the Rhodoendron Gardens on part of the former golf course land,” he told parliament.
“This has led to a great deal of concern about what may be coming next.”