A community meeting held at Kumbia’s Memorial Hall on Tuesday night has agreed to develop a community plan for the town.
Likely short-term projects include footpaths, street lighting, and a walking track because these improvements will benefit residents immediately.
But future projects may include a town festival, a caravan dump point and the beautification of Bell Street.
The meeting was called by Division 6 Cr Ros Heit in response to requests from Kumbia residents that they wanted to look at plans for the town’s development.
The meeting was also attended by Cr Gavin Jones and Council’s General Manager of Infrastructure Aaron Meehan.
The need for a long-term vision for Kumbia – and a lack of Council investment in the town centre over the past few years – was raised at the annual Council Listening Tour meeting held in Kumbia on October 9.
Tuesday night’s meeting attracted more than 30 residents, nearly all of whom had ideas to contribute to the discussion.
Cr Heit opened proceedings by outlining some ideas discussed at the Listening Tour, then called for suggestions from the floor.
These included installing a dump point to encourage more caravanners to stay in the town; adding more trees in Bell Street to increase shade in the CBD; and repairing an ageing bus shelter at the Bunya Mountains turn-off.
Gayle Carroll suggested the town also hold an annual festival, and after some discussion the idea of an event based around stonefruit to be held on the weekend before Kumbia Race Club’s annual Melbourne Cup Day meeting won general approval.
Desiree Crawford reminded the meeting that just a few years ago the task of repairing and renovating Kumbia’s ageing tennis courts had seemed impossible, but thanks to grants and hard work that project had been accomplished.
“If Kumbia can do that, we can do anything!” she said, to applause.
Mr Meehan said that from Council’s point of view, some projects – such as building footpaths – were relatively easy to do.
They were also affordable in next year’s Council budget.
But others, such as installing a dump point, were not affordable for Council at present so the community would probably need to seek grant funding to make it happen.
However, he said Council staff were willing to help with planning and advice, and would be happy to assist where they could.
He suggested the group formulate a community-driven plan outlining what projects they would like to see, then meet again with Council in December to discuss them.
Cr Jones told the meeting he thought the best approach would be to pick several easy projects to start with, then move to more ambitious ones over time.
Based on his experience as president of the Maidenwell Community Group over the past seven years, he thought the best immediate projects to tackle would be footpaths and street lighting.
After this, the community could look at upgrading the cricket and tennis court fields while they sourced grant funding for more ambitious projects.
Cr Jones also said everyone should bear in mind there were really two groups of beneficiaries for any town improvement project: one of these was Kumbia residents, and the other was tourists.
He said the advantages of tackling smaller, easier projects first was that all the town’s residents would enjoy immediate benefits.
“If tourists come and enjoy them too, that’s great,” he said.
“But even if they don’t, Kumbia ratepayers will get a real boost and that will encourage everyone to press on for other things.”
Cr Heit told the meeting she thought it was important to develop an overall plan to avoid “higgledy-piggledy” development and ensure every piece of the puzzle matched.
Using Nanango’s streetscape as an example, Cr Heit discussed how everything from the CBD street furniture to the trees formed part of an integrated whole, and suggested Kumbia should follow the same approach.
She thought Nanango was probably the best example of an integrated development that put community needs first, but which was also attractive to tourists.
Towards the end of the meeting, the group discussed the best way to progress things.
A suggestion to incorporate a Kumbia Community Group was set aside in favour of forming the group as a sub-committee of the already established and incorporated Kumbia Hall Committee.
The meeting also decided it would be best to hold a second meeting to firm up their initial plans before the group met with Council again.
This second meeting will be held at Kumbia Hall at 6:00pm on Monday, November 11.