Save the Rogers Reserve (Episode 2 - 2017)
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Attention to Mayor Paul Antonio, and Councillors of the Toowoomba Region Council,
The Charles & Motee Rogers Bushland Reserve consists of over 6 hectares of Remnant Dry Rainforest Vegetation, and is one of the last remaining examples of it's kind in the Highfields Region. It is classed as an Endangered Ecosystem (Regional Ecosystem 12.5.6) under Queensland Legislation's National Vegetation Management Act and a Biodiversity "Area of Ecological Significance" on the Toowoomba Regional Planning Scheme.
Toowoomba Region Council have proposed a new Highfields Draft Cultural Master Plan, which treats with contempt, a generous bequest of land made by Charles & Motee Rogers almost 24 years ago. We are not protesting plans for a new library or community space, but it is an environmental crime to encroach on a precious endangered ecosystem, iconic to our town, in any way for these plans.
POINTS OF CONCERN WITH THE DRAFT CULTURAL PRECINCT MASTER PLAN:
1. Library in the trees, option 1, or Option 2 - library seemingly not in the trees, but actually IS encroaching on the Reserve land, taking up space of some of the most precious dry rainforest bushland in the front section (lot 8) near the entrance signs on Community Court. It seems that council are offering “option 2” so it appears as though the reserve is being spared, but when you look closely, this is not the case at all. Rough estimates show that at least 12 significant eucalyptus trees will be lost with Option 2, along with many precious dry rainforest plants.
2. O’Brien Road is being widened to four lanes plus a centre island with trees – to make way for this, the reserve edge on O'Brien Road will be depleted for a highway sized road - with four lanes to no where. This large road will be unsafe for families and citizens crossing to and from the cultural precinct to proposed town centre shops and amenities, and it seems ludicrous to cut into precious bushland and remove established trees to widen a road and then plant alternative trees in the centre of this new road. We note that Ruthven Street in the city centre of Toowoomba is only two lanes.
3. A new road is proposed, named Charles & Motee Rogers Drive, running behind the sports centre & skate park from Rogers Drive to Community Court. (see pages 28. 42, 44), cutting into the reserve again and an unnecessary waste of space in this Cultural Precinct, where space is at a premium. The enormous length of the proposed road will encourage access to the reserve at many points rather than at set path entries contributing to the degradation of the Reserve's environmental integrity, and it's large span will without a doubt, mean disastrous results for wildlife with a high-risk of road trauma, and un-necessary removal of further trees. This would also take away precious parkland from Lot 904, purchased by the Crows Nest Shire Council in 2004 as additional park land for the Charles & Motee Rogers Park.
OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE YOUR SAY?
Highfields residents have been offered the opportunity to respond to the draft plan by choosing from two options, both of which are sketched to suggest that the bushland will remain in place around the buildings. As the details on Page 14 show, this is NOT the case.
Respondents are offered the choice of only two options, one which would create less damage to the Charles and Motee Rogers Bushland Reserve. Both options are unacceptably destructive, but the form cannot be submitted unless one of them is chosen.
An opportunity to respond, telling council that we would like the library, but not on the site of the precious reserve is not offered to us, hence the need for this petition.
SOME NEEDS IDENTIFIED BY THE MASTER PLAN, BUT NOT RESOLVED BY IT
The master plan acknowledges that:
- it would be desirable to “physically grow the extent of the (Charles and Motee Rogers) reserve” (Page 14)
- “Stakeholders have said (that the) “Highfields Cultural Precinct needs... support for the conservation of.... the local bushland setting.”( Page 21)
- And “The Charles & Motee Rogers Reserve is not integrated well into a vision for the town centre’s public realm or open space strategy.” (Page 22)
The Master Plan as it stands fails to address these three issues.
Instead, it reduces the extent of the Charles and Motee Rogers Reserve (the Reserve), reduces the area of conserved local bushland, while offering no strategies for supporting conservation, (Page 13) and no appropriate strategy for integrating the Reserve into the precinct. Instead, it relegates the Reserve to the cultural Precinct’s backyard.
These negative steps are outlined in the Master Plan, which provides for
- Excising all but Lot 7 from the biodiversity area (Page 12). This provides for the environmentally valuable sections of Lot 904 and a significant portion of Lot 8, to be cleared and used for other purposes.
- Excising a strip from Lot 7 to widen O’Brien Road.
- Excising a further portion from Lot 7 for part of the planned “Charles and Motee Rogers Drive”. (Pages 28. 42, 44)
- Planning to replace the only section of the Reserve offering an ideal solution to the integration problem, with a library. A second negative effect of this positioning of the library would be the unnecessary destruction of existing bushland, including some tree species which occur nowhere else on the Reserve.
We would like the greater Toowoomba Region community to have the opportunity to submit our Positive Proposals (full list on our blog here: http://rogersreserve.blogspot.com.au/p/save-reserve-2017.html)
The tall trees of the reserve and it's signed Community Court entrance, are an iconic part of the character of central Highfields. The Charles and Motee Rogers Bushland Reserve is a functioning ecosystem of high quality. Once destroyed, it can never be fully replaced. Its environmental value should be acknowledged and respected by Toowoomba Region Council. The reserve should not be treated as though it were nothing but "green space", or a mere beauty spot which could easily be replaced with something of equal value.
Thank you for taking the time to read and sign this petition. Please share it with your friends and ask for their support by way of their signature, in speaking for the greater Highfields & Toowoomba Communities. Follow us on Facebook for further updates
Friends of Rogers Reserve, Highfields, Queensland.
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