Goodwill on show at Congo workshop

18 November 2022

Congo residents turned out in force last night for a community workshop to talk about reopening Congo Road north.

Hosted by Eurobodalla Council, more than 70 residents reviewed ideas submitted by the community after Mayor Mathew Hatcher called for ideas earlier this year.

Mayor Hatcher said there was overwhelming support to work towards reopening the existing northern route, a section of which runs through privately-owned land.

The landowner withdrew public access through the property last November citing potential liability issues, leaving Congo residents to access the village via Congo Road south, off the Bingie Road highway intersection.

Mayor Hatcher said the workshop was a first step for the new Council toward solving a long-running and complex issue.

“If this was easy, we wouldn’t be here tonight,” the Mayor told residents gathered at Kyla Hall in Tuross Head.

“When councillors heard from residents earlier this year that all possible solutions hadn’t been considered, we asked people to put forward those ideas so Council could look at them. Last night’s workshop was an opportunity to look at those ideas and Council’s responses to them.”

49 submissions were received from community members, representing six different ideas. These included acquiring the existing access through the private property, acquiring different alignments through the private property, keeping the road closed, and a route via South Head Road and across Congo Creek.

Residents worked in groups to consider each idea, leaving their comments and questions for Council staff and councillors to consider.

The Mayor said it was a successful session, conducted with goodwill and respect.

“We went into this with good faith and the community responded in kind,” he said.

“I want to thank Congo residents for the effort made to present ideas, and again acknowledge their frustration about this complicated situation.

“It was clear the majority of residents at the workshop want us to work toward reopening the existing access, and were strongly against keeping the road closed.”

Council’s general manager Warwick Winn, just nine days into the job, told residents the workshop was the start of a process to find a solution.

“We’ve been applying fresh thinking to this challenge and that will continue, as will our communication with residents to keep them updated,” he said.

Workshop materials and the community comments captured will be emailed shortly to attendees and available on Council’s website. Congo residents will receive a letter with a summary of the workshop and an invitation to provide their feedback on the ideas and the Council and community responses.

Meanwhile Council is working with Crown Lands to look at potential solutions involving a Crown Road reserve running through the private property.


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