Plan for Orbost’s Forest Park updated after community consultation

East Gippsland Shire Council is moving ahead with a $1.82 million upgrade of Forest Park in Orbost, after surveying community members and making design changes.

Key alterations include:

· Expanding the play area past its current footprint

· The addition of long-vehicle parking adjacent to toilet block and along Forest Road

· Hardstand changes and floodplain measures

· A changed position of the trail head

· Toilet block upgrades to better reflect rural character

· An accessible path between Forest Park and the Orbost Exhibition Centre and Slab Hut

· Ensuring that the design allows for integration with any future precinct-wide works or upgrades

A central boardwalk was removed from the design, and a viewing platform overlooking the river has been added as a future stage.

Community sessions will beheld to discuss the new design on Tuesday 24May, from 10.00 – 12.00pm at the Orbost Service Centre, and Thursday 26 May, from 1.00 pm – 3.00 pm in Nicholson Street at the end of Lawson Street.

The upgrade will revitalise and enhance the park by providing a place for all ages to gather and connect, as well as creating a destination point for people visiting or passing through Orbost.

Mayor Cr Mark Reeves said community feedback has been valuable in refining the design.

“I’m pleased that locals have been keen to shape the way Forest Park will look in the future and shared their thoughts with Council,” Cr Reeves said. “And it was, of course, pleasing to learn that 89 per cent of the community support the redevelopment.”

An initial concept for Forest Park was developed in collaboration with community groups and individuals and was issued to the public in June 2021. This was followed by a consultation program which included four information sessions, an online survey and engagement with Orbost students on the play space. Council received 67 online responses and 20 locals attended the sessions, resulting in 752 feedback items.

Support for the plan included:

· The redevelopment overall (89%)

· The location of the toilet block

· Improving the connection between Forest Park and the Snowy River

· Integrating with the East Gippsland Rail Trail

Concerns included:

· Proximity of the play area to Nicholson Street

· Having to cross the access road from the playground to the toilets

· Removing any open space

· Developing within the flood plain area

· Removing the mosaic sculpture

Suggestions included:

· Ensuring the aesthetic of the toilet block reflects the rural character of Orbost

· Developing a location adjacent to Nicholson Street, which saw 30 per cent support(developing the existing location received 54 per cent support).

· Expanding into the gas-distribution area

· Providing an undercover area separate from the toilet block

This project is made possible with funding from the Australian Government’s Community Development Grants Programme.

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