The year that was

Puffing Billy puffs into the future after it received a $8.2 million funding grant in December 2017.

By Derek Schlennstedt

Belgrave Hub on track for 2018 opening.
Twenty one months since the sod turning and construction is progressing well at the Belgrave Community Hub site in time for the expected completion by mid-2018.
In March 2017 Yarra Ranges Council reported they would enter into a lease agreement with Inspiro over the to-be-constructed Belgrave Community Hub facility which will provide essential community health services to the region and help respond to a high demand for allied health, family and children services, and dental services.
At its 28 February meeting, council unanimously supported the move, which set in stone a 10-year joint agreement, with options for four further 10-year terms.
The $9.673m hub will provide purpose built accommodation for visiting specialist services such as mental health, public dental services and services for people experiencing family violence.

Burnham Beeches heats up.
The decision by celebrity chef and developer Shannon Bennett’s to develop the historic Burnham Beeches site continues to create controversy within the Dandenong Ranges Community throughout 2017.
At the forefront of that controversy was the proposal to remove 13 of the 22 beech trees that comprise the Avenue of Beeches in Sherbrooke as well as an incident involving helicopters landing at the location without any permits.
An independent planning panel meeting held in December covered many of the residents concerns ranging from safety in the event of a bushfire, and inadequate response to heritage values, traffic and parking, environmental and landscape impacts, excessive scale and inadequate application information.
The owners of the Sherbrooke site, celebrity chef Shannon Bennett and business partner Adam Garrison, are seeking to significantly redevelop the site, including the restoration of the Norris Building.
The Independent panel meeting gave the opportunity for both sides to put forward there position to the panel, and will prepare their recommendations in early 2018.

Blue building is no more.
The iconic Upper Ferntree Gully Visitor Information Centre dubbed the ‘blue building’ closed its doors in June 2017 after Yarra Ranges Tourism announced the decision following a decrease in visitors.
Following a detailed review of the ongoing viability of the centres, Yarra Ranges Tourism determined a significant decline in the number of visitor inquiries and a rise in online bookings by visitors to the Dandenong Ranges had driven the decision to cease operations at the Upper Ferntree Gully Information Centre.
Having been vacated by volunteers as well as Dandenong Ranges Taxi service who had been a subtenant at the site, there still remains no current development planned for the site.

Puffing Billy puffs into the future.
The popular Puffing Billy railway is steaming into 2018 after the Andrews Labor Government announced a funding boost of $8.2 million on 10 November, 2017.
Puffing Billy Railway Station announced that the funding boost will be used to improve facilities and create a new discovery centre at Lakeside Station that will be utilised as an all-weather venue and give a significant lift in visitor experience. Just as importantly, it will be a kick-off point for the second half of the railway.
Construction on the discovery centre is expected to commence before the end of 2018 and be completed by late 2020.

Mt Evelyn local plays for Collingwood
With her dreadlocks and uncompromising attack on the contest, it’s hard to miss Collingwood midfielder and Mt Evelyn local Lauren Tesoriero on the footy field.
All you have to do is look for is the player at the bottom of every pack.
That was especially true when on Friday, 3 February Lauren made history playing as part of the Collingwood team in the inaugural AFL Women’s League match at Princess Park.
The game marked the beginning of the 28-match AFLW competition and it was set up by the AFL as a ground-breaker, building on the traditional rivalry of Collingwood and Carlton.
The 30-year-old’s multi-sporting career has seen her travel from her roots in Mount Evelyn, to the country town of Yea, to across the globe in Ireland, before bringing it back full circle to play AFL for Collingwood in the AFL Women’s League where she will return to play for in 2018.

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