Telstra tower for Toomuc Reserve

Plans for a portion of council land to be leased to Telstra at the Toomuc Rec Reserve are moving forward. Pic: STEWART CHAMBERS 253603_01

By Gabriella Payne

Plans for a Telstra tower at Pakenham’s Toomuc Reserve are making headway, after councillors agreed to allow the project to move forward at the most recent council meeting.

At the Cardinia Shire Council’s meeting on Monday 18 October, the “proposal to lease land to Telstra for Telecommunication Facility” (item 6.1.6 on the agenda) was discussed by numerous councillors and ultimately given the green light to go ahead.

The proposal, which plans to see the northeast corner of Toomuc Reserve land leased to Telstra for the “erection of a telecommunication facility”, was endorsed by numerous councillors, who said it would be beneficial for the community in more ways than one.

Councillor Stephanie Davies said that it was “absolutely essential” for quality telecommunications services to be built in the area in this increasingly digital age.

Councillor Collin Ross agreed with Cr Davies, stating that projects like this were “one of the bonuses of being in a growth corridor”.

“Phone towers often get requested, but the bonus of this one being on council land as compared to being on private land is that the council actually gets that bonus – and in most cases, it goes back to the reserve committee for maintenance,” Cr Ross said.

But it seems not everyone in the community is on board with the plan.

Councillors discussed that of the six public submissions received in regards to the proposal, only three were in support of the idea and various concerns had been raised by locals.

These concerns included the physical appearance of the tower, the potential health impacts from “radiation” and a question was raised as to where Telstra’s rental fees would be invested.

Cr Davies said that these concerns had all been addressed, as the tower posed “no adverse health impacts” and it would be “painted in a colour to help it blend in with its surroundings” – a first time occurrence for a Telstra tower.

As to the investment of rental fees, Councillor Jack Kowarzik assured residents that “the funds from the Telstra rental will be invested into the reserve each year” and would go towards helping with maintenance and improving the facilities for local sporting clubs.

The land will be rented to Telstra for $20,000 per annum (plus GST, plus 3 percent annual increase) and will be leased to the telecommunications company for a 10 year period (with the option to renew the deal for two further terms of five years).

A full copy of the proposal can be accessed on the Cardinia Shire Council website.