Fears for long held arboretum hopes

THE proposed site set to be further investigated for a planned arboretum in Seaford. Works undertaken in Seaford by the LXRP on a shared use path have caused some uproar. The construction of a metal fence (below) has also upset residents. Pictures: Supplied

CONSTRUCTION being undertaken by the Level Crossing Removal Project in Seaford has caused a stir among residents keen to see long held plans for an arboretum come to life.

The LXRP is working on a shared use path, which will span more than 11 kilometres from Edithvale to Frankston. They are currently working between Armstrongs Road and Station Street in Seaford, and have shut the Kananook Reserve Walking Trail from 6 May to 29 May to allow for that.

Former president of the Kananook Creek Association, Robert Thurley, said that works at Station Street are at odds with plans for an arboretum in Seaford. 

“This is happening at the site of the Seaford arboretum,” he said. “The bush walking trail entrances at Station Street are vital to be preserved.

“The Seaford arboretum is a jewel in the crown and the planned entrance to it should not have been wrecked by LXRP. This needs to be rectified”.

In February Frankston Council endorsed plans for the arboretum when they voted unanimously to approve spending $30,000 to complete a detailed concept design. They also voted to “note the estimated total project cost is $672,500” and “authorise council officers to seek external funding for the entire project through the state government.” 

Frankston councillor Kris Bolam said “given the amount of trees and vegetation the state government has destroyed to make way for the level crossing works, the least they can do is contribute to, and collaborate on, a project that is going to showcase the best of our flora and fauna in Seaford”.

The arboretum proposal endorsed by council covers an area of approximately 3 hectares with boundaries by the east bank of the Kananook Creek, Station Street, the Seaford Railway Station car park, RF Miles Reserve, and Seaford Road.

Frankston councillor Glenn Aitken also criticised works on the LXRP’s shared use path.

“The essence of the trail along Kananook Creek has always been of a more earthy access way through a canopy of tree growth, it’s almost like taking a type of journey through the vegetation with limited encroachment. This path is something that is slammed onto the landscape without due diligence.”

The erection of a metal fence in the area has also been met with some disapproval. “They’ve put a steel rail all the way along the bike road in the area which was going to be a showcase for aquatic plants,” Mr Thurley said.

“There’s been no sensitivity and lack of due process. (…) This would not have happened this way if a proper consultation process had been executed.”

Cr Aitken said the fence was “visually highly offensive”.

“Anyone engaging with the coastal environment should become highly acquainted with the history of the area, sensitivity of community groups, and should have been acquainted with the value of coastal vegetation,” he said.

Residents protested vegetation removal by the LXRP on Station Street in February. Council wrote to the LXRP at the time to express “its serious concerns at the recent removal of high value and old growth vegetation along the shared user path alignment, particularly around Armstrongs Road and Station Street, Seaford, and seek an assurance that further vegetation removal works will be paused pending a more thorough consultation with both council and the community (“Vegetation removal protested”, The Times, 2/3/20)”.

The LXRP was contacted for comment.

First published in the Frankston Times – 25 May 2020

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