By Peter Douglas
The Emerald Community House (ECH) has been busy driving the construction of an interactive bus shelter for the community.
After losing the fight to save the original, controversial bus shelter in 2016, the ECH has vowed to continue its legacy for the community, with the new shelter set to offer something unique for residents.
Once complete, the bus shelter will feature free Wi-Fi, mobile-phone charging and an interactive, digital display that helps communicate the stories of the town’s significant, pioneering identities.
Important applications such as Emergency Management Victoria, and the Bureau of Meteorology, are also to be integrated.
The shelter also features mosaics from the original.
ECH manager Mary Farrow said the initiative showed resilience from the community group.
“It’s important from the standpoint that it shows that community groups can do things. We want to make a positive contribution to our town and this is one way of doing so,” Ms Farrow said.
“Everything has been ticked off with (Cardinia Shire) council and we’re pleased with the result.
“There has been no graffiti and we expect the community will respect the shelter in the future.”
Ms Farrow said funding for the shelter has come through a local history grant from the Public Record Office Victoria, as well as contributions from ECH.
Local builder Michael Kipp constructed the shelter off-site, with the concrete slab laid and the installation taking place in late January.
An official launch of the project is expected during the Fun Fest in early April, with local dignitaries expected to help with proceedings.
The recent construction follows much controversy, after the ECH led a campaign to keep the original shelter in 2016, which included overnight protests at the shelter.
The demonstrators braved near-zero night temperatures and gained significant media attention.
However, council workers demolished the original shelter during the early hours of Tuesday 2 August, 2016.
This came soon after demonstrators had agreed to call off the protest, when the terms of an arrangement over the fate of the shelter were discussed at a meeting between ECH and council.
Ultimately, council opted for a heritage style shelter.
The conclusion also came with a requirement the new shelter was not to be used as a community noticeboard.
Although, at the time, Ms Farrow said it was a small victory.
“There’s nothing pleasant about being out there in the cold 24/7, but the protest paid off because we didn’t get a new glass shelter like the council had intended as recently as June,” she said.
“It’s a butter-coloured, heritage-style shelter to help it blend in with the community house.
“Once the council had condemned it, this was the ultimate outcome.”
Meanwhile, the construction of a new shelter hasn’t pleased all members of the community, with the anti-ECH Facebook group, Get Rid of the Emerald Yellow Peril Community House, hitting out..
In just one of many anti-ECH posts, the site condemns the recent construction.
“ECH has now erected a bus stop behind the bus stop and placed that hideous arrangement of tiles that they call Emerald’s tribute to Ash Wednesday,” the site read.
“ … is ECH going to star placing political rubbish in this new one now? Lots of complaints will be made to council again.”
*Cardinia Shire Council has been contacted for comment about the new shelter. The Mail will endeavour to publish a response.