Murray Bridge council watch: May 2021

Councillors make decisions about pedestrian crossings on Adelaide Road, an upgrade to Toora Reserve, repairs to Jervois Memorial Hall and more.

This story was originally published behind Murray Bridge News’ paywall. Paywalled stories are unlocked four weeks after publication. Can’t wait that long? Subscribe here.

Andrew Baltensperger, pictured last year, wants more pedestrian crossings installed on Adelaide Road, Murray Bridge. Photo: Peri Strathearn.

Residents in Murray Bridge’s west need easier ways of crossing Adelaide Road, Councillor Andrew Baltensperger says.

The city’s council will ask the state Department for Infrastructure and Transport about installing at least one crossing or refuge on the main road between Cromwell Road and Zerna Avenue.

That stretch of road features Heavenly Hotdogs, Elders, Landmark, Cash Converters and Foodbank on one side; and the Adelaide Road Motor Lodge, Kin Kin Early Education, the White Hill Truck Drivers’ Memorial and the nearby public toilets on the other.

Cr Baltensperger said several residents had approached him about making it easier and safer for pedestrians to access the new Adelaide Road linear park.

“This would encourage people to walk and enjoy this wonderful area even more,” he said.

“Approximately 14,000 cars a day use Adelaide Road – it’s very hectic there.”

It is not the first time Cr Baltensperger has asked the council to take a request to the same state department, not by a long shot.

Over the years, he has won praise from colleagues for pursuing ideas including a Thomas Street roundabout and a lower speed limit on Bridge Street – every one of which has been knocked back by bean-counters in Adelaide.

Jervois hall granted $23,000 for repairs

More than $23,000 worth of repairs will be carried out at Jervois Memorial Hall after councillors approved the spending last week.

Hall committee member Barry Noye said much of the plasterboard sheeting inside the hall needed replacing, and that a paint job was needed throughout its main rooms.

Volunteers were able to look after the community-owned hall, he said in the funding application, but raising the funds for major upgrades was a challenge.

Mayor Brenton Lewis said the grant funding showed the council’s commitment to the community of Jervois.

Toora Reserve upgrade definitely won’t go ahead for a while

A plan to transform Toora Reserve into a haven for waterskiers should not go ahead until at least 2023, Murray Bridge’s councillors have decided.

Which was a bit funny, because the council’s CEO said the plan wasn’t due to go ahead until then anyway.

Still, Councillor Clem Schubert wanted to be sure.

“It’s (going to be) a very costly exercise,” he said at last week’s council meeting.

“I’d rather see the money allocated towards this go towards other opportunities.”

What money, CEO Michael Sedgman asked?

The council had budgeted $50,000 for designs to be drawn up in 2021-22, but had not planned to do any actual work on the ground until after the next council election, and not without securing outside funding.

The upgrade itself was likely to cost about $500,000, Mr Sedgman said – “funding the council doesn’t currently have”.

So they all agreed, then – the work could wait.

Cr Fred Toogood was bemused.

“If we vote for this, nothing happens,” he said.

“If we don’t vote for it, nothing happens.”

They voted for it, 6-2, for what that’s worth.

The Toora Reserve plan had already been sitting around since 2018.

Council locks in climate change action

The Murray Bridge council has locked in a plan to fight climate change by planting trees, switching to electric vehicles and replacing old streetlights.

The plan was first floated in 2020 after two young girls compelled councillors to acknowledge the climate emergency facing the world.

The council had already taken some actions in response, including installing solar panels on the roof of the council office which Councillor Fred Toogood estimated were saving ratepayers $20,000 per year in electricity costs.

No significant changes were made in the final version of the climate change adaptation plan, as only one resident offered feedback during a consultation period.

Murray Bridge Showground RV fees will go up

Visitors will pay more to stay at an RV friendly area at Murray Bridge Showground from now on.

Councillors voted last week to increase the cost of a night’s stay to $15 for a powered site and $7 for an unpowered one, up from $8 and $5.

Funds raised go to the Murray Bridge Agricultural and Horticultural Society to cover the cost of power and water used by visitors.

Pay your rates or lose your house, eventually

If you don’t pay your council rates for long enough, and make no attempt to do so, the council can seize and sell your house.

The Murray Bridge council used that power against 15 property owners in 2020, as it pursued $350,000 in unpaid debts.

However, ratepayers will have just three years to settle their debts from now on, instead of five, after councillors agreed to bring the council’s policy in line with state law.

Most debts wound up being repaid without property needing to be seized, the council’s lawyers said, so shortening the grace period would benefit the council by encouraging ratepayers to get on with it.

What's with that welcome sign on the east side?

Could something be done with a “welcome” sign at the eastern end of the 1879 road bridge?

Cr Karen Eckermann asked the question at last week’s council meeting, wondering whether it would be appropriate to replace it with a garden bed or public artwork.

Council staff advised that plants spelling out the word “welcome” had once grown there, but had been replaced with bricks and soft-fall rubber after being vandalised too often.

The council would think about it after a planned upgrade which would improve pedestrian access to the bridge, they said.