For months the residents of Palm Lake Bethania and Waterford have been calling on Mayor Darren Power and Deputy Mayor Laurie Koranski to meet with them and last week they faced off.
The alarmed residents have been voicing their concerns over the planned Bethania to Logan Village Rail Trail that will see the path run between the two retirement communities.
The land, which is the old rail line, was never owned by Palm Lake and always state owned. It was recently given to Logan City Council by the state to make something of it.
Logan City Council recently released modified plans for the Rail Trail to include fences on both sides for the section that runs through the villages.
This has only come after Cr Koranski spoke with and listened to the concerns of residents and pushed in council to have the 1.8 metre chain wire fences added to the plans.
“Fencing is not something typically council would do on any development anywhere in the city,” said Cr Koranski.
“I, as your local representative have fought hard in council to try and get fencing into this corridor for you. The councillors of Logan are sympathetic to your plight, and they are free and willing allocating funds towards fencing.”
However, residents have said this is not good enough and believe their safety is at risk.
On July 18, 35-plus residents attended a protest outside council chambers with signs demanding the rail trail go around the villages.
Resident and RTDG member Tracey Bertomeu said at the time of the protest, we have not had any success to date with meeting face to face with either of them, so we brought ourselves to them and held an organised small protest outside the Logan City Council.
“We lodged our request and held strong together on a cold and slightly rainy day for an hour with our signs and voices and we felt they may feel compelled to show their faces and speak to us,” said Tracey.
“But as we predicted neither of them could make themselves available to us.”
In the following days of the protest, council advised that Mayor Power and Deputy Mayor Koranski would attend two sessions at Palm Lake to talk with residents, along with members of staff who would answer questions relating to the trail.
During the early stages of the meeting, residents advised they were not interested in talking to the council staff but rather directly to Cr Power and Cr Koranski.
Prior to the arrival of the councillors, several different residents took to the microphone to engage the crowed and rev them up in preparation. Many had come armed with signs and there were plenty of chants of “Rail Trail go around” and divert the Rail Trail”.
When Cr Power and Cr Koranski arrived, they were met with chanting and yelling from the residents that had waited for almost two hours to hear from them.
“I’m here to talk, I’m not here to scream and I’d like to have a civil conversation so if you’re not here for a civil conversation, I’ll just go,” said Cr Power when he was handed the microphone.
“We have got something to show you from the consultation that has produced something you can actually see, and that’s where we’re at right there.
“The local councillor and I are here for a discussion, not here for a shouting match, we are here to listen and that’s where we’re at.”
Residents questioned the pair about alternative routes, crime, safety to residents and costs associated with the Rail Trail.
“As you know, we’ve had a huge blow-out in costs because of construction prices, concrete has gone up 70 per cent in the last couple of years,” said Cr Power.
“On top of that we are obviously trying to improve the design to what we thought would be appropriate, to alleviate some of your concerns.”
Cr Power advised Palm Lake residents that there are tens of thousands of people outside the area who would apricate the trail.
“I’ve been in politics a long time and what I do know is that people that are unhappy are first to advise elected members,” said Cr Power.
“Those that are happy with the process don’t say a word so at the moment you are the very noisy minority because when I go out into the community people are looking forward to the Rail Trail.”
A representative from Palm Lake, Keith Arnfield, attended the meeting however at first declined to comment.
“No comment, we have nothing to say,” said Mr Arnfield.
“We support the people, and we advised council we do not want any change, but we have no power.
“They own the land, and the people here have more chance than we do,” said Mr Arnfield.
Residents are continuing to fight for the Rail Trail to go around Palm Lake.