South-east Melbourne supporters kick-off A-League bid

Excitement is brewing for soccer fans in south-east Melbourne as the region’s bid for national soccer teams was signed and celebrated yesterday in Dandenong.

The mayors of Cardinia Shire, City of Casey and Greater Dandenong signed a Memorandum of Understanding at Harmony Square yesterday afternoon, officially declaring their joint bid.

After the signing, a community event was held with a number of local clubs. The event was staged to promote interest in the bid and for members of the clubs to show their support.

The event included games, free food and an entertaining soccer skills display from Greater Dandenong Mayor Cr. Jim Memeti.

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Dandenong mayor Cr. Jim Memeti shows the crowd how it’s done. Photo credit: Billy Spencer

Dandenong Thunder administrator Adem Tahiri admitted he was “quietly disappointed” with the crowd numbers, in part due to his club posting about the event to Facebook only 2 hours prior.

Casey Comets president Dawn Stone was pleased with the turnout, saying that most players were at training, which brought down the crowd numbers.

Despite the small crowd, Mr. Tahiri and Ms. Stone both said the support they’ve seen has been magnificent.

“Everybody is very, very, keen,” said Ms. Stone. “I think just the fact that we have several big, established clubs coming together … I think that shows just how much it’s needed.”

“There’s a wealth of population and talent in the area that’s not getting an opportunity.”

“It’s just that people love where they live, and to have a team to represent that would be quite something.”

Mr. Tahiri warned not to be too hasty. “We have the support, we have the culture, but what we need is money.”

“We’ll need to build a stadium, that will cost money … maintenance of the stadium, that will cost money; the day-to-day administration, that will cost money.”

“If we were approved tomorrow, this wouldn’t work.”

But before dealing with those problems, the bid will have to fend off competition from the likes of Geelong and South Melbourne, who are also bidding for the 11th Hyundai A-League team.

Vince Grella, a former Socceroo who made his start as a Springvale City junior, was officially announced as an ambassador for the south-east’s bid.

The three joint areas are also looking to establish sides in the W-League and the National Youth League.

To combat opposing bids, Ms. Stone said “we really want to focus on the diversity of the area, we reckon that’s a real strength of ours.”

Throughout the event, Harmony Square’s big screen proclaimed key selling points of the regions, such as that the three regions have over 150 nationalities and that Casey is the fastest-growing area in Victoria.

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Harmony Square was buzzing with conversation and inflatables. Photo credit: Billy Spencer

“This will really be a people-focused club,” said Mr. Tahiri. “We still need the money, but it’s the support of the people that will make this successful.”

Burning bridges to fight Berwick Springs redevelopment

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The entrance to Berwick Springs. The roundabout will be expanded and moved south (further back). Photo credit: Billy Spencer

The fight against the redevelopment of the Berwick Springs estate entrance is “effectively on standby” but there are plans to block a bridge-building permit.

The Save Berwick Springs Promenade Entrance group has been left with little to do after council unanimously voted at the meeting on February 21 to proceed as recommended with the Alira estate development plans from the Victorian Planning Authority.

These plans include the relocation and expansion of the roundabout at the intersection of Greaves Road and Berwick Springs Promenade, which passed council despite strong opposition from the group.

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Layout of the roundabout changes. Source: Metropolitan Planning Authority: Berwick Waterways DCP

“We exhausted all of our avenues for objection with the council,” said active and prominent member Aldónio Ferreira.

“We have subsequently asked council various questions about the process and the outcomes of this particular decision … the mayor ruled them unacceptable.”

The Save Berwick Springs Promenade Entrance Facebook page has posted and shared links about their struggles to get answers from Casey mayor, Cr Sam Aziz.

“To us, it’s really offensive… it’s our democratic right to have questions be put to council and answered by council.” Mr. Ferreira said.  “He’s denying to keep accountability.”

The group recently learnt that developer Moremac has requested a building permit for a bridge over the waterway to the north of the roundabout, which will be the group’s next target for objection.

“The first element is to look at the application and put our objections.” Mr Ferreira said.

A fundraiser on gofundme.com was set up in December 2016 to raise money for, among other things, fees for VCAT; an option Mr. Ferreira says is “on the table.”

“VCAT is the next step that will follow from that if we thought there was some failures in the process.”

The ultimate goal of the permit blocking is to make council reconsider their options. Mr. Ferreira believes a viable alternative is to move the development east to the intersection of Greaves Road and Domain Drive.

According to Mr. Ferreira, “the Domain intersection has heaps of space and could be developed into a better access for people living on that side already.”

Mr. Ferreira is eager to assure that the group’s sole concern is the estate entrance, not the Alira estate or Greaves Road.

“It’s never been our intent to stop the development of that road.” Mr. Ferriera said. “Our fight is about the fact that the developer is putting the roundabout on our side… and that is grossly unfair.”

Mr Ferreira said that the estate could lose around 7.5 million dollars due to an estimated one percent drop in house prices.

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