After four years of residents working in partnership with Byron Shire Council, the Skinners Shoot Road upgrade and sealing was completed last week.
It ends years of constant complaints and grievances from residents about the poor condition of the rutted road and the increasing concerns associated with the fine white billowing dust which some residents claim was causing health problems.
Representatives for the group, Terry and Christine Ahern, said that what started out in 2007 as a petition to Council for a road upgrade has now ended in a council-community partnership and an excellent outcome.
They say residents raised $100,000 for the road contributions to upgrade the last 750 metres of Skinners Shoot Road south of Yagers Lane.
Mr Ahern said, ‘The Skinners Shoot residents wish to acknowledge the unerring support of councillors and, in particular, mayor Simon Richardson, who organised meetings between the residents and Council staff, helped facilitate flexibility in resident contributions and kept track of the process to its completion.’
In addition, he thanked Council staffer Phil Holloway and John Bashforth from Bashforth’s road constructions in processing the works to completion.
‘Initially, Council staff’s standard recommendation was that the cost be attributed by length of road frontage, estimated to be around $200,000. After Tony Pangallo and Christine Ahern spoke at Council’s open access on three occasions to request a different approach, a Council resolution was made to obtain road engineering specifications.
‘The resolution also questioned the requirement for kerb and guttering, and engaged a private contractor to quote and allow residents to make their own arrangements as far as contributions were concerned, especially when four of the landowners chose not to contribute.
‘This allowed others to cover the shortfall. In all, residents raised $100,000. Twelve of the sixteen landowners gave $5,000 to $11,000 with one resident contributing $13,000 to get the funds to target. The mayor was instrumental in adding $16,000 of Council funds towards a total cost of $116,000.’
In 2010, he says, extensive lobbying by Christine Ahern on behalf of the Skinners Shoot Residents Group led to a formal parliamentary petition which was presented to parliament by Don Page MP (Nationals).
‘It had the outcome of an “all weather access” upgrade of Skinners Shoot Road (from Arts Factory to Yaegers Lane) being placed as a condition of consent in the Lismore to Mullumbimby electricity upgrade 3A approval.
‘The electricity supplier Country Energy undertook these works costing around $1,000,000. This has now made Skinners Shoot road infrastructure excellent and improved the amenity for the community immensely.
‘It is a fine example of a small cohesive community lobbying and Council responding, to achieve what was not possible to attain under standard Council practices and policy.
‘A partnership formed between the community and Council and has forged an outcome to improve road infrastructure in a rural area.
‘This exercise has created a friendly, sociable coterie in the neighbourhood that was absent before. It has strengthened community ties and as such we will have a strong voice on direction and future planning decisions for Skinners Shoot.’