Mybribieisland Examines a Number Of Projects Undertaken On Bribie Island By Moreton Bay Regional Council And Asks… Are Bribie Ratepayers Receiving Value For Their Money?

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In the last two postings, MBI has extended an invitation to readers to submit examples of projects where ratepayer funds have been used by Moreton Bay Regional Council on Bribie Island for various projects.  MBI readers were asked to comment on whether Bribie Island ratepayers received value for their money with these projects.  In all, MBI received over 20 suggestions for MBI to investigate and these were narrowed down to six projects or approaches to problem issues.  In this posting, MBI examines the first two of these.  The remaining four will be covered in future postings.

 

MBI also takes this opportunity to provide an update on stories that MBI has been following.

 

Real Estate Values:  Last week, the Courier Mail published a review of real estate performance of Moreton Bay areas.  Click here for a copy.  It shows that most areas around Moreton Bay have increased in value over the last quarter except for Bribie Island.  Real estate prices fell by 1% – 3% on Bribie while in other Bayside suburbs such as Redcliffe and Scarborough real estate prices rose by  4% – 5%.  MBI asks why is that?  MBRC has spent over $15 million “upgrading” the Woorim area alone and yet shop vacancy rates are higher than ever.  Businesses are difficult to sell.  And real estate prices continue to fall.  MBI received a letter this week from Carol Wood that asks that question and this has been posted.  MBI is keen to hear from readers with views on this subject.

 

Destruction of Fairweather Trail:  In June, 2013 MBI posted an article detailing the ongoing destruction occurring along Fairweather Trail.  This destruction has included the removal of all the ground-level vegetation along that Trail as well as the removal of lower branches of trees that could be accessed once the ground level vegetation was removed.  MBI commented that the removal of all that understory vegetation would compromise the stability of those trees as the wind could then get into the upper story of those trees and put them at risk.  That has occurred just as predicted.  Last month, MBRC removed a number of trees that had become unstable as a result of the removal of this lower story material.  None have been replaced.

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Section of Fairweather Trail in January 2009

Section of Fairweather Trail in January 2009

Same section of Fairweather Trail today showing two trees that have recently been removed because they developed a lean as a result of the removal of underbrush that allowed strong winds to get into the trees' upper story

Same section of Fairweather Trail today showing some of the  trees that have recently been removed because they developed a lean as a result of the removal of understory that allowed strong winds to get into the trees’ upper story

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MBI welcomes comments from readers on any of its stories.  MBI is especially interested in hearing from readers with examples of environmentally irresponsible activities on Bribie.  MBI plans to examine a number of these once the stories on expenditure of ratepayer funds are completed.

Editor

MyBribieIsland

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TRAFFIC ROUNDABOUT – ARCADIA AVENUE, WOORIM

 

 

Woorim Roundabout – Project Description:  In 2004, the Woorim Master Plan for Public Open Space was released by Caboolture Shire Council.  This Plan was developed by Council in conjunction with community members and consultants Hassel Pty Ltd.  This Master Plan was intended to be a guide for the proposed upgrading of Woorim.  In its summary, the consultants comment….. Overall, Woorim will be a vibrant, safe, and attractive village which celebrates its natural coastal and bushland setting”.

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One of the aims of the Plan was to enhance the “sense of arrival” into Woorim and to achieve that aim, the consultants recommended changes to First Avenue which included a roundabout at Arcadia (click here for copy).  The consultants’ recommendations for this area included:

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·      First Avenue to be upgraded to become a two-lane road with turfed and planted kerbs.

·      Planted entry roundabout at intersection of First and Arcadia Avenues, with appropriate entry sign and directional signage panels.

·      Upgrade existing pathway to be a 3m wide shared cycle and pedestrian pathway on the southern side of First Avenue.

·      To highlight the entry into Woorim formal plantings of Brachychiton Acerifolius (Flame Tree) are to be planted around the entry roundabout and at intersections of side streets.

·      Informal native tree planting, and coastal dune grasses, along both sides of First Avenue will visually highlight the informal bush character of First Avenue and the greater Woorim area.

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From Woorim Master Plan

Proposed roundabout from  Woorim Master Plan

Original Woorim Entry sign

Original Woorim Entry sign

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Woorim Roundabout – Project Issues:  The Woorim Roundabout was installed in 2009 at a cost of around $800,000.  As the Master Plan points out, this roundabout was not required because of traffic density.  It was to act as a “traffic calmer” to ensure traffic slowed down before entering Woorim, and the gardens and plantings within it would enhance the “sense of arrival” that visitors would have.  Some issues with this Project include:

·      There are cheaper ways to provide traffic calming than a roundabout such as this

·      The cost of the roundabout was greatly increased because of the incorporation of a complex catchment system for storm water runoff.  This was unnecessary on a sand island like Bribie and would have doubled the cost of the project.  This is another example of adhering to inappropriate engineering designs without any consideration being given to local conditions.

·      The project was not implemented as per the Plan.  Most of the plantings to enhance the roundabout area were not undertaken.  What plantings that were undertaken were mostly of inappropriate species and most have since died as can be seen.  Over 20 mature trees were removed to make way for this roundabout.  When local residents complained about the removal of these trees, Council committed to replace them.  But only five were planted.  These were not trees as per the Plan and one has since died.

·      Very little of the planting away from the roundabout as outlined in the Plan has been undertaken.  In fact, the exact opposite has occurred.  Vegetation continues to be removed.  For example, in recent years about 10 mature trees have been removed from Council lands at the corner of Winnett Street and First Avenue and none have been replaced.

·      There has been little effort made to maintain the gardens on this roundabout and most have now died.  Rather than give an enhanced “sense of arrival”, this roundabout now gives more of a “sense of neglect”. 

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Garden at roundabout that have died from neglect poor plant selection

Garden at Woorim roundabout that has died from poor plant selection and poor maintenance.  Garden now gives a sense of neglect

Iconic Bribie Pines removed to make way for Woorim roundabou

Iconic Bribie Pines removed to make way for Woorim roundabout

Same area today

Same area today where Bribie Pines were removed.  None of the trees that were removed have been replaced

 

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Roundabout soon after installation. Note green gardens and plantings

Roundabout soon after installation. Note green gardens and plantings

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Roundabout today. Virtually none of the plantings have survived due to lack of maintenance

Roundabout today. Virtually none of the plantings have survived due to lack of maintenance

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Who paid for this Project:  Bribie ratepayers

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Who benefits from this project:  It is difficult to say if there has been any benefit to anyone.  There is certainly no benefit to Bribie ratepayers.  Hooning is still a major police concern in this area.  Traffic has not been calmed.  Recommended planting was not implemented.  What little planting that was done has not been maintained and most of it is now dead.  Whether a visually pleasing “sense of arrival” has been created is debateable.  Probably not.  Some MBI readers suggest it is more of a “sense of neglect”.  MBI invites readers to be the judge

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"Sense of Arrival" that visitors see today

“Sense of Arrival” that visitors see today

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Project Summary:   Project cost around $800,000 and has been of no benefit to Bribie ratepayers.  Any enhanced “sense of arrival” benefits from the project have been destroyed by the lack of maintenance and it now gives visitors a “sense of neglect”.    

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STORM WATER RUNOFF

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Handling Storm Water Runoff on Bribie Island – Description:  Whenever areas are converted from naturally-drained areas to paved areas, there is an issue with what to do with the water that runs off the newly paved areas.  The normal practise is to divert that runoff into storm water drains and, in the case of Bribie Island, that runoff will eventually find its way into Moreton Bay.  The sediment brought into Moreton Bay from all this storm water runoff is one of the major causes of the downgrading of Moreton Bay according to Healthy Waterways in their annual survey (http://www.healthywaterways.org/EcosystemHealthMonitoringProgram/2012ReportCardResults/2012ReportCardResults/MoretonBayCatchmentsn.aspx). 

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This storm water runoff into Moreton Bay and its associated sediment load and pollution could be reduced or even eliminated in a number of ways such as the installation of sediment traps on the stormwater runoff systems, or the installation of rain gardens, or the installation of constructed wetlands.   Those scenarios are outlined very well in MBRC’s recycle water strategies (click here for a copy) and MBRC has received a number of awards for those planning documents.  But very few of these recommendations have been followed, and there are virtually no examples on Bribie where these have been implemented.   Storm water, and its contained sediment load, continues to flow directly (or indirectly) into Moreton Bay from Bribie Island waterways.  No effort has been made to trap that sediment or divert that runoff back into Bribie’s aquifers. 

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Addition of unnecessary storm water runoff drainage like this will double the cost of this roadwork

Addition of unnecessary storm water runoff drainage like this will double the cost of this roadwork

Some of the storm water pipes used in the Woorim roundabout. Installation of these pipes would have more than doubled the cost of the project

Some of the storm water pipes used in the Woorim roundabout. Installation of these pipes would have more than doubled the cost of the project

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Handling Storm Water Runoff on Bribie – Issues with Current Practices:  Bribie Island is a sand island and there are many issues with the current approach to handling runoff on Bribie including:

 

·      Storm water runoff drainage is unnecessary in sandy soils like those on Bribie Island.  That storm water will quickly disappear into the sand

·      The addition of storm water drains will double the cost of any roadworks.  Given the amount of paving and roadworks completed on Bribie in recent years, these unnecessary drainage installations have probably cost Bribie ratepayers millions of dollars.

·      The diversion of runoff water into storm water drains prevents this water from replenishing the aquifers, and in the worst cases will lead to aquifer drawdown and increases in aquifer salinity.  It is estimated that there are between 3000 and 4000 unlicensed bores on Bribie and it is estimated that at least 50% of them are used regularly.  There is increasing evidence that salinity in some areas is increasing and the removal of storm water runoff from the aquifers would make this problem worse.  If these salinity levels become too high, that water will be unsuitable for any use. 

·      The diversion of runoff into storm water drains is increasing the sediment load in Moreton Bay and leading to further downgrading of the health of Moreton Bay Marine Park.  Although there have been recent Council motions to adopt “best-in-class” practises (click here for a copy), there has been no effort to implement those practises on Bribie.  As a result the discharge of sediment into Moreton Bay continues and as a result the Healthy Waterways scorecards show a continuing decline in the health of Moreton Bay and Pumicestone Passage.

·      Those sites where storm water outlets drain directly into Moreton Bay have become major erosion sites and their maintenance costs have been enormous – probably millions of dollars.  Those maintenance costs are on-going and will continue.  That expense could be all but avoided if MBRC adopted “best-in-class” practises as per MBRC’s stated strategies and as per recent motions.

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Complex capture system for storm water runoff at Woorim roundabout. Has probably doubled the cost of the project

Complex capture system for storm water runoff at Woorim roundabout. Has probably doubled the cost of the project and is totally unnecessary

First Avenue showing how raods can be installed without storm water runoff

First Avenue showing how roads can be installed without storm water runoff drains

First Avenue pavement with concrete edging to cope with traffic

First Avenue pavement with concrete edging to cope with traffic.  Runoff quickly soaks away.

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Where stormwater drains into the ocean.  This is where the real damage and costs occur.

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Benny Street outfall now. All the destabilized dunes have now been washed away

Same area showing Benny Street outfall now. All the destabilized dunes have now been washed away despite all the efforts to protect them

Benny Street storm water outfall in 2009. Note all the surrounding vegetation

Benny Street storm water outfall in 2009. Note all the surrounding vegetation

Benny Street outfall relocated. Note all the vegetation that has been removed and how the banks have been destabilised

Same area showing Benny Street outfall relocated. Note all the vegetation that has been removed and how the banks have been destabilized

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Benny Street storm water outlet showing some of the massive amount of work undertaken to try and unsuccessfully protect this outfall.

Benny Street storm water outlet showing some of the massive amount of work undertaken to try and unsuccessfully protect this outfall and the dunes around  it.  Has probably cost ratepayers millions of dollars

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Boyd Street storm water outfall showing some of the enormous effort bening taken to protect this outfall. Has cost Bribie ratepayers millions of dollars.

Boyd Street storm water outfall showing some of the enormous effort being taken to protect this outfall. Has also cost Bribie ratepayers millions of dollars.

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Who Benefits from this Approach to Dealing with Stormwater:   No one.  Everyone loses except the contractors.

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Who pays for this Approach to Dealing with Stormwater:  Ratepayers of Bribie.  They have paid out millions of dollars and have received nothing of value in return.  In fact they are worse off.  The erosion along the Woorim foreshore has been caused in a large part by these storm water outfalls and this, combined with the ugliness of those outfalls, has been a major contributing factor in the continuing decline in property values in that area.  Bribie ratepayers will continue to lose the amenity of the natural coastline that has been one of the major charms and attractions of Bribie.  And Bribie ratepayers will continue to pay out millions of dollars for ongoing maintenance on this infrastructure unless there are some improvements in MBRC engineering and environmental standards and approaches

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Summary of Approach to Stormwater:  Waste of ratepayer funds.  Has cost millions.  Will continue to cost millions.  Will continue to cause loss of amenity and natural bushland setting.  Will continue to drive down property values.

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