Pomona sends out defiant crossing closure message
A MOVE by Queensland Rail to divide Pomona by closing a cross-town path that has served the community since 1911 has had the effect of uniting residents in determined defiance.
The normally sedate streets of the friendly village reverberated with chanting "Don't Divide Pomona!” on Saturday when 130 marchers, some on horseback, waved banners and placards protesting the planned closure of the pedestrian and cycle path linking the east and west sides of town across the railway tracks. It is the point where three of the walks on the Noosa Trail Network intersect.
QR has assessed the path as unsafe. Old-timers say they can't remember a death or any injury involving trains striking pedestrians or cyclists at the location. QR is resisting calls to provide the data on which its decision is based.
By the end of the day, the protesters had won a small concession. The CEO of QR, Mr Nick Easy, advised residents on May 18 "closure of this high-risk pedestrian crossing is the best way to eliminate safety risks”, meaning that a decision to close had been made. However, in a late email to rally organisers, a Queensland Rail spokesperson said QR was committed to understanding and considering the views of the community.
"We will be undertaking thorough consultation to better understand the impacts this crossing closure may have on those who use it, and to present options for alternative, safe crossing connections,” she said.
A decision to close the crossing would not now be made until the community consultation, to be held in mid-July, after the school holidays. The most passionate protester on the day was the youngest, three-year-old Myles Corcoran. Not yet able to read, he cried when his mother read him a newspaper story announcing that QR intended to close the railway footpath both use to access town. Mum explained that he no longer could accompany her on his bike, as she considered the alternative crossing dangerous.
A resolution passed unanimously at Saturday's rally in Joe Bazzo Park called upon QR to keep open the existing path via the railway station and to make it safer. Pomona residents also want State Government agencies and Noosa Council to develop a combined plan that ends bickering and blurred lines of responsibility for roads, footpaths and public spaces in town.
"We request that QR actively consider better utilisation of vacant land it controls, bounded by Factory and Reserve streets, including subdivision, to fund the necessary works and make available sites for new businesses. We expect silo thinking and cost-shifting to end, and tripartite co-operation to prevail so that our Pomona town centre can be revitalised.”