By Rebecca Fraser
A BERWICK church has hit back at claims they are blocking a controversial road development.
This week the Berwick Church of Christ threw their full support behind the development of Gwendoline Drive in Berwick into a through road.
As reported in the News last week both ends of the road have been developed with just 140 metres of land in the middle needing to be sealed to turn the drive into a through road.
Casey Council promised to develop Gwendoline Drive into a through road more than two decades ago but that has not happened, leaving residents outraged and angry.
Last week councillor Mick Morland said the church was a “stumbling block” in the latest bid to develop the road as they opposed the idea and owned part of the undeveloped land.
However senior pastor at Berwick Church of Christ Barry Cutchie said this statement was completely untrue.
He said the church owned land surrounding the church but not the 140m of land requiring development.
“We have cooperated with council on the whole project and do not oppose construction of Gwendoline Drive into a through road,” Mr Cutchie said.
“I think it would bring many benefits to the community and I always assumed the road would be completed in one go.
“I recognise there has been some misinformation but the church is certainly not the sticking point in this project.
“We want the land developed into a through road and would encourage this and hope it comes quickly.”
Mr Cutchie said he understood the traffic pressures of the surrounding area and in recognition of this, the church had offered the new primary school in Centre Road, that is currently under development, the use of their car park.
“We are cooperating with the new school and will allow parents to park at the church and pick up and drop off their children.
“Our understanding is that the drive would be made into a through road and I believe it would bring many benefits to local traffic,” he said.
At last Thursday’s meeting a petition with 286 signatures was presented to council by Cr Morland calling on Casey to live up to their promise and ease traffic congestion on Bellevue Avenue and County Drive which residents say are bearing the brunt of increased traffic pressures.
Cr Ben Clissold also presented a petition with 12 signatures that County Drive resident and Gwendoline Drive campaigner Barbara Goodier said called for the current developments to be stopped until the matter was sorted out and finalised by council.
Ms Goodier also expressed concern about the width of the drive and said council had labelled the stretch of road a collector road but she felt this was questionable.
“The road is not wide enough for trucks or buses to come past and through,” she said.
Following the presentation of the two petitions Cr Clissold moved that a report look into the requests of the petition and how funding could be found to deliver the unfunded 140metre link as a matter of urgency.
The report will also investigate whether the southern end of Gwendoline Drive was wide enough as a designated collector road to fit a school bus and truck in opposite directions simultaneously.
Cr Morland also moved that a report be held to address the concerns of the second petition and be presented back to the new council after the elections later this month.
Ms Goodier said residents were not going to let the issue slide and would apply through Freedom of Information for any documents pertaining to the development dating back to 1984 when the project was first talked about.
“We are not sitting quietly waiting for the reports to come back and will not be letting this go,” she said.
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