Petition raised for Francis St’s ‘rocky road’

Seeking support: Francis St petition organiser Anne Meade outside her Rochester home. She, and 20 co-signers, are seeking an improved surface to the stretch of road between Everard and Pascoe Sts.

A 400-metre stretch of road at the southern end of Rochester’s Francis St is the subject of a petition that was lodged with the Campaspe Shire at its July meeting.

Twenty-one residents of the street have signed the petition, which is lobbying the council to provide bitumen covering for the uneven dirt road that acts as a conduit to their properties.

A section of the street between Everard and Pascoe Sts stands alone as only only unsealed section of urban road south of Kyabam Rd.

The petition is asking for the council to improve the drainage and bitumenise the road, citing increased traffic and the associated increase in dust as a concern — along with potholes at the entrances to both ends of the street.

Campaspe Shire upgrade works on thoroughfares close to Francis St, along Cohen St and Cohen Rd, have caused residents to question the future of their own “dirt road’’.

Anne Meade, who co-ordinated the petition with her husband Graham, said it had been on the back of their mind for years

They have lived in Francis St for for nine years and recent works to Cohen St (the next road to the east of Francis St) on a similar length stretch of road forced her hand.

“We only see it as fair. If the works can be done on Cohen St then they should also be done here,” she said.

Mrs Meade said she had been told that the works on Cohen St were being completed at no cost to residents and she — along with her co-signers — expected the same privileges to be offered to Francis St residents.

“Residents of Cohen St have been complaining for years about their street. Maybe it is the best course of action,” she said.

Mrs Meade said she was inspired to organise the petition after being informed that council was completing the Cohen St works at no cost to residents.

She said one of the major reasons nothing had been done on Francis St was the fact it was such an expensive exercise for residents.

A bulk of the homes on Francis St have been developed in the past decade, modern half-acre lots whose properties have risen significantly in value — along with rates — without improving access to the properties.

The Meades chose the street because of the lack of half-acre blocks available with a rear entrance in the town.

“We came off a farm on O’Donnell Rd. We even had a bitumen road there’’ Mr Meade said.

An increase in land and property valuations has seen the Meades’ rates increase by 50 per cent in the decade they have lived in the street.

“Because the value of the property has increased so much, so has the rates. We are not so worried about that, more about what we are getting for our rates,” Mrs Meade said.

“We’ve had to move heaven and earth in recent years to have a few potholes filled.”

She said many residents believed they had contributed enough through their rates to have this little bit of bitumen done.

“There is a principal about it that if one street is done then another should also be done,” she said.

“We don’t want to be left behind.”

The northern end of Francis St has been bitumen for some time, as have all the surrounding streets, which was another inspiration for the petition to be raised.

Mrs Meade said Rochester ward Councillor Paul Jarman had been understanding of the raising of the petition and she had maintained contact with the Rochester born and bred local government representative.

“If we need anything he will take it up on our behalf,’’ she said.

The Meades have a rather daunting 2-nil win/loss record from disputes with local government authorities.

“Forty years ago we had an issue in regard to rates at Healesville,” Mr Meade said.

“We won that one and then the issue of a flood gate to the Yarra River also went our way.”

The couple moved to Rochester in 1975 and have two daughters in the area.

They said residents of the street were not interested in anything “too fancy’’, but felt they deserved a sealed road — like their neighbouring streets.

“Nearly everyone on the street has two cars and a lot of people avoid Cohen St, so there is quite a bit of in and out traffic,” she said.