I figure that it's fair game to post my first English AS-Level essay. We had to write two "letters to the editor", one for and one against a new development in an area of natural beauty. Not perfect, but here they are anyway.
I read with frustration your recent article regarding the new development at Ellesville Ridge ("Elles-Full Ridge", September 8th). The assertion that "Ellesville’s environment will struggle under the weight of 4,000 new residents" is not only misleading but a misrepresentation of what the Ellesville Ridge development will encompass.
Ellesville Ridge is a planned development of 1,100 new building blocks, plus various essential services. Population modelling indicates we will see about 2,900 new residents, not 4,000. The first release is for 450 blocks, expected to cater to 1,100 residents. It will include a sports field, a shopping precinct, a medical centre, a library and a primary school.
All of these are services which Ellesville desperately needs. It is expected that many current town residents will take advantage of the new services up on the ridge. The current school, with overflowing playgrounds and inadequate buildings, will see enrolment relief as students transfer. The medical centre will improve residents' access to health care and relieve pressure on Ellesville Hospital.
There is no doubt that the natural beauty of the area is an important concern. For this reason, extensive tree-planting will be required by all new residents, and house footprints will be restricted to one-third of the block space, ensuring that the area remains green. These are detailed in Council's Master Plan, available for viewing in Ellesville Town Hall.
It is, of course, prudent to question how much this will cost. However, it is unfair and inaccurate to paint the Ellesville Ridge development as a drain on the public purse. The development is largely being financed by private enterprise and the only buildings funded by Council will be the library and sports field. The Ellesville Ridge Development will bring much-needed services, businesses and tax revenue into an area suffering from high unemployment. Rather than struggling, Greater Ellesville will flourish as we welcome new residents and services to our area.
John Chapman, Counsellor for South Ward,
Thank you for your excellent piece on the upcoming Ellesville Ridge development ("Elles-Full Ridge", September 8th). It's about time that someone spoke up about just how many problems this folly will cause.
Nobody seems to be interested in the nature trail, which will be destroyed to make way for the sports field. Ellesville already has a sports field which is rarely used, and the nature trail has lovely birds and plants which will disappear overnight. Not only that, the planned shopping strip will see the demolition of existing homes. Why bulldoze houses just to put in ugly supermarkets and fast food restaurants?
In addition, it’s unbelievable that the question of water has not come up. Not only is the Ellesville River inadequate to supply the new residents, the Sewer Treatment Plant will be overwhelmed in heavy rain, resulting in overflows. The fact that we haven’t had a complete failure in eight years is just luck; with 4,000 new residents we can look forward to regular catastrophe. As for drinking water, Council's "compulsory rainwater tank" rule won’t solve the problem. Many of us already have rainwater tanks which collect rust all year, as we prefer the clean, pressurised water from the kitchen tap. A rainwater tank is just another white elephant.
And what will it all cost? Council claims it will be paid for externally, but where are the billionaires stepping in to foot the bill? I fear that Council will be left holding the baby, and with good reason. We all saw what happened to Riverview, when blocks sat unsold for years, the exorbitant cost becoming a millstone for their necks.
Ellesville is a tourist attraction for good reason. It’s a quiet, tree-lined community offering a unique, old-style experience. Main Street is what attracts people to our town. We're known for our gift shops, towering oak trees and boutique accommodation. The crowds of new residents will bring demand for "big city" convenience and loss of identity - convenience stores and hamburger shops will destroy the ambience of the area. With many retirees and low-income families, the town is ill-equipped to bankroll such grotesque assaults on taxpayer funds. Turning our beautiful Ellesville into a metropolis will be an albatross.