2020 Yarra Ranges Election
Candidate Answers

This year’s council elections are vitally important to the future and rapid development of Lilydale while preserving and enhancing our town’s rich heritage.
With this in mind and reflecting the issues which have been raised by the Lilydale & District Historical Society, its members and the wider community for almost 50 years, I emailed 6 questions to each candidate in Billanook and Melba wards which cover Lilydale.
The questions are listed below and I requested each candidate’s response by the 6pm Sunday, October 4.
Sue Thompson
President
Lilydale & District Historical Society.

Below is each question followed by the candidate’s response in the order in which each was received before the deadline.

If elected a councillor on the upcoming Yarra Ranges’ election will you support:

1. The preservation and enhancement of Lilydale’s street trees.


Matt Musilli (Billanook Ward)

I will most definitely support the preservation and enhancement of our street trees, I think they help to bring life to our town and make us more unique.

Peter Killin (Billanook Ward)

The easy answer is; yes of course, for important trees such as these. The canopy is beautiful.
Having said that, I currently don’t know what ALL the potential/current threats to the trees are. For example, water table changes due to railway pilings etc. etc. are well outside my expertise and so a greater understanding of the depth of tree needs is required in the preservation of these trees.

Jason Callanan (Billanook Ward)

The Main street trees are of significant importance and every effort should be done to ensure their protection. They are iconic, and do give Lilydale it’s country town feel. Without them the town would feel empty and unattractive. However each tree must be regularly reviewed and ensured that they are safe and well maintained.

Tim Heenan (Billanook Ward)

Yes. I know and understand the historic nature of the trees, and understand they are an important part of the streetscape of Lilydale.

Chris Templer (Melba Ward)

Yes, I fully support the preservation and enhancement of the magnificent trees in Lilydale main street. They are a major element of the township and part of Lilydale’s history and I would like to see them live out their natural life as long as they are safe for traffic and pedestrians.

Don Di Battista (Melba Ward)

Yes, the Street trees of Oak and Elm are an important feature of the Township and should be not only preserved, but also enhanced

Nerida Forster (Melba Ward)

I love trees and protect them at any opportunity. I believe trees and nature make a place more appealing.

Lisa Di Battista (Billanook Ward)

If elected councillor I will support to protect the old trees in Lilydale’s streetscapes for they have much historical, cultural significance.

Sophie Todorov (Melba Ward)

I answered them collectively!
I’m personally worried about 3 property developers running for Melba.

Liz Maranik (Billanook Ward)

Personally, I do love the trees in Lilydale. It does take so long for them to become established as the ones which are now there. And I agree with your point 6 that these trees are not only good for us as locals but the businesses. I also think that businesses need extra support during this Corona Virus epidemic to help sustain them.

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2. Will you oppose the widening of Lilydale’s Main Street to 6 lanes to cater for the increasing through traffic? The widening would see the removal of our town’s Queen’s Jubilee Avenue and the Lilydale War Memorial and surrounding Reserve.

Matt Musilli (Billanook Ward)

I will oppose such a motion, there must be a better solution than widening our main Street to 6 lanes! Firstly we need to once and for all settle the question of the Lilydale bypass and if Council supports or doesn’t support such a project before we could even consider widening Main Street..

Peter Killin (Billanook Ward)

I don’t like the idea of changing the basic structure of the main street. If only we could go back a hundred years or so, it would be a lot easier to widen the street then!
And I do not like the idea of 6 lanes and removal of the Avenue and the Memorial.
Would a by-pass do all we want? I need to talk to more affected locals about that. One local told me recently that years ago there was a by-pass mooted to go through where the Gateway is now. Too late of course for that.
When reviewing the Structure Plan recently, I asked Ben Champion; “…given that the State will probably be broke for years to come, what is the likelihood of gaining State Government funding for the by-pass.” Not very confident. So this is still a planning-work-in-progress to get the best doable outcome.

Jason Callanan (Billanook Ward)

This was the alternative option to the “bypass” however as it is stated above it would remove some very significant pieces of history within the centre of Lilydale, some of which locals have been protecting for many years. Reviewing the current proposal ,I feel it still does not cater for the businesses on both sides of the highway and it just provides a greater passage of traffic through Lilydale.

Tim Heenan (Billanook Ward)

I will oppose the widening of Lilydale’s Main Street to 6 lanes as I feel this would be an absolute detriment to Lilydale if it were to eventuate.

Chris Templer (Melba Ward)

I as a community member, the community as a whole and I’m sure the Yarra Ranges Council would never let this happen. The township structure plan, zoning, heritage overlays, Melbourne water management of Olinda Creek and Vicroads would never allow for such a plan to even be proposed.

Don Di Battista (Melba Ward)

Yes, the widening is unnecessary, particularly if historic planting as well as the monument are to be removed. I would prefer the (re)consideration of the by-pass as the alternative, taking away the traffic, particularly the commercial and freight movements through the Main St precinct.

Nerida Forster (Melba Ward)

It’s my goal to preserve the heritage in Lilydale. I believe in innovation; not demolition. The Lilydale Place Plan needs to be implemented in a manner which connects with the fantastic township and enhances what we have, not completely change it.

Lisa Di Battista (Billanook Ward)

Yes. The by-pass should be re-reviewed as an option to capture all heavy vehicle movements to reduce traffic. It will then allow for the war memorial to be preserved in its original location and the reserve to remain for the memorial to be accessed by the public for commemoration ceremonies. This will in-turn also protect the old oak trees on Queen’s Jubilee Avenue.

Liz Maranik (Billanook Ward)

It looks like there are competing needs for traffic flow versus the character of our neighbourhood. If elected as councillor, I would be consulting with the locals for their ideas. From my experience in social research, I have found the people who use the area most have practical ideas on how to solve issues. As I understand it, the project of widening of the street is not imminent therefore there is time for this consultation process to take place.

3. The inclusion and adoption of the Value of History Statement endorsed by History councils of Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia, in the upcoming Yarra Ranges Corporate Plan on which you will vote. Download a copy

Matt Musilli (Billanook Ward)

I am more than happy to advocate for the inclusion of this history statement into the Corporate Plan – we must always recognise and appreciate history in all we do as we must understand our history in order to make good decisions moving forward.

Peter Killin (Billanook Ward)

The first thought that came to me when you mentioned History was this: We must never allow anything or anyone try to rewrite our history. The good and the bad is all there to learn from. I strongly support the maintenance and education of our true history. Today there are many who are trying to rewrite history, with all sorts of agendas. Some key phrases I notice are: “individual citizens”, “independent thinking” and “open conversation”. Too often today, individuals are not given the right to think independently, (being taught otherwise) and to have open conversation, without being shut down by dissenters.
Exactly how this statement fits into one’s day to day activities and council activities, remains to be seen in my opinion. I am ready to hear both sides of any argument for council to engage with this as you suggest.

Jason Callanan (Billanook Ward)

The Value of History statement is an important document that provides Councils with a clear direction regarding historical property/buildings. I agree that this should be endorsed and Councils should ensure they abide by these recommendations. My only concern is that this document is not used to “prevent” progress, but”protect” our heritage and that Council planning and community historical groups can work together ensuring open communication. This is where Councillors need to be involved.

Tim Heenan (Billanook Ward)

The Yarra Ranges Corporate Plan encompasses all of the Yarra Ranges Shire. This statement is an important document to help protect our history.

Chris Templer (Melba Ward)

There are quite a number of Councils that have endorsed and adopted this plan. I am happy to be involved in it’s evaluation and possible adoption with the eight other Councillors and Council staff if I am elected.

Don Di Battista (Melba Ward)

I would support the ‘Value of History statement’.

Nerida Forster (Melba Ward)

I’d like to endorse this statement.

Lisa Di Battista (Billanook Ward)

Yes, I would endorse a Value of History Statement.

Liz Maranik (Billanook Ward)

I have read the statement and believe we can learn a lot from history. I am all for supporting the truth in public places. However, other’s perspectives need to be heard about this issue before a decision is made.

4. The retention of Ron Noble Reserve as a community playground and ensure the upgrading of the playground equipment.

Matt Musilli (Billanook Ward)
4: I think it’s important that our community has many options with playgrounds across our Shire and I’m happy to support the Ron Noble Reserve. In regards to upgrades, I am happy to be guided by the community as to what they want to see it upgraded with. I’m a big believer that a Councillor should not be telling people what they want, but instead should be listening to what the community wants and trying to implement that to the best of their ability.

Peter Killin (Billanook Ward)
Council seems intent on putting this space aside for public housing and not spending any more playground money on it (May 26th).
Council says that it looked at this for social housing in 2019 but “….there hasn’t been a decision to proceed” (August 25th).
Since nothing has been defined as to what the public housing will contain and how it will be costed, utilised etc. etc., then I find it difficult to give you an assurance of anything at this stage.
To be a good councillor we are encouraged to hear both sides of the argument before arriving at a fair and considered decision.

Jason Callanan (Billanook Ward)

I believed a proposed social housing project was looked into for this area but never went through as the area was too small. I do remember this when I was on council and I believed I was in favour of the proposal, (for social housing and this project as a concept.) The Ron Noble reserve must be reviewed to ensure council can meet community expectations. Im sure you know maintenance of grounds and equipment comes at a cost, and I don’t want to promise you something and find out once Im in, it can’t be done. Im also confident that you understand the current environment we are facing. I am supportive of outdoor activity, sporting groups, recreation and ensuring our kids have somewhere to play, but it needs to be at a high standard. I can guarantee the residents of Lilydale, that a review of this reserve will be done “promptly” and options of the reserve’s future will be made known prior to any firm commitment set.

Tim Heenan (Billanook Ward)
Playgrounds are important for families within the Billanook Ward, and I am always happy to look at upgrading playground facilities for our children to use.

Chris Templer (Melba Ward)
The future of the Ron Noble reserve has been highlighted by the current Council and Council staff for some time now. The possibility of social housing has been raised with both support and opposition for the idea, but an official evaluation for it’s future has not been started. When it is, there will be options on the table, so until then, a candidate can only say they are open to all options provided.

Don Di Battista (Melba Ward)

I would support the retention of the reserve, and its upgrade; It seems to have been forgotten by council. If this is the site for the proposed social housing, I would vehemently oppose such a use, there are many sites available around the township that would not necessitate the removal of crucial public open space, set aside for this purpose long ago.

Nerida Forster (Melba Ward)

As it stands, Noble Reserve is set to be ‘retired’. This means funds have been allocated elsewhere, possibly nearby. As rate payers can appreciate, there are not endless funds and what we have, we must spend carefully. If the community would value Noble Reserve over other playspaces in the area, and there are key reasons as to why money should be spent at Nobel Reserve over other playspaces, then this is something I would most definitely look into. Another issue around playspaces I am passionately advocating for is for them to be fenced.

Lisa Di Battista (Billanook Ward)

Yes. I would like to see a community built play space in this reserve, like the one in Montrose.

Liz Maranik (Billanook Ward)

As a mother and teacher I place a high value on playgrounds as I know they benefit families and are important for children’s development. However, I’m aware that the council has tagged this land for public housing which is also an important issue. I volunteer with Stable One (an organisation which houses the homeless during the winter months) so this is a concern of mine. To cater for both needs more consultation needs to take place.

5. The establishment of a community facility in Lilydale.

Matt Musilli (Billanook Ward)
I’m a strong supporter of this idea! I attend many community meetings for the Lilydale area that end up being held at the Mt Evelyn Community House. While that is a great location, we deserve something similar for the people of Lilydale to gather and support one another.

Peter Killin (Billanook Ward)
Do you think there will be any money left in the kitty after the civic centre is finished? 
The short answer is yes. Of course; where this fits with all planning and funding going forward.

Jason Callanan (Billanook Ward)
I am fully supportive of a “community facility” within Lilydale. The re-development of the Civic centre will provide community spaces both indoor and outdoor. As Mayor in 2016 m proud to have played a major role in getting this project moving forward after being stalled for many council terms. This project will transform Lilydale and pave the way and generate confidence and also boost local businesses with one of the largest employers in Yarra Ranges in the centre of Lilydale.

Tim Heenan (Billanook Ward)
I’ve been working hard with the Lilydale Township Action Group over the last year to convince the State Government to gift the soon to become old Lilydale Railway Station for an important community facility. This I believe will have great opportunities for Lilydale to finally have its own community centre.

Chris Templer (Melba Ward)
I am happy to support all types of community facilities, as long they are needed, worthy of the cost and supported by the community.

6. The beautification of Main Street to enhance the future survival and growth of businesses and create a welcoming place for shoppers and residents.

Matt Musilli (Billanook Ward)
I completely support the work of the Lilydale Beautification group and would love to focus on this if I am elected as Billanook Ward Councillor, we need to keep our Main Street beautiful to attract business but also as a sense of pride in our town and community. As a Lilydale local, this and all the other points you have raised are very important to me and it is about time that we have someone from Lilydale on Council who knows how our town works and wants to see it improve.
Thanks again for your questions, Sue, and for your ongoing desire to see Lilydale having effective representation on our Council, if elected I hope to work with you and the broader Lilydale community to get some great outcomes for our town!

Peter Killin (Billanook Ward)
I think this is very important and groups like LMSB and LTAG are working towards such. However, I think LTAG should be detached from council influence and perhaps both groups should become one for greater common impact. Some old and broken down buildings are a bit of an eyesore though aren’t they!
A final thought, most of the above questions relate to Lilydale. A good councilor recognizes the Shire of Yarra Ranges is many many times larger than just the Lilydale that we live in.

Jason Callanan (Billanook Ward)
I am supportive of any enhancements that will provide our businesses with better access to customers, increase tourism and make Lilydale a destination rather than somewhere to stop for fast food and continue on to your final stop.

Tim Heenan (Billanook Ward)
Lilydale, I believe, is at the crossroads. If we are to attract people to our local business area we need to enhance the Main Street to make it people friendly.

Chris Templer (Melba Ward)
We are fortunate in Lilydale to have a number of passionate community groups that are motivated to promote and enhance the township and main street of Lilydale. As we all work towards recovery in the months and years to come, I as a Councillor would like to be heavily involved in working with all groups to assist all businesses with every Council resource, grants and support around the entire Melba Ward community.

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Lilydale & District Historical Society Inc.

Contacts:
Sue Thompson (President) 0475 219 884
Joy Gothe 0405 128 964
Lorraine Smith (Court House Manager) 03 9735 1104
Email: info@lilydalehistorical.com.au

Our home is the Old Lilydale Court House at 61 Castella Street, Lilydale 3140
Hours of opening:
By appointment only:
Fridays 1 to 4pm and Saturdays to Mondays 11am to 4pm.
Sundays are preferred.
Closed Public Holidays

Share Your Information with the Society!

Email us your info (and images) to:
info@lilydalehistorical.com.au

Lilydale & District Historical Society Inc.

Contacts:
Sue Thompson (President) 0475 219 884
Joy Gothe 0405 128 964
Lorraine Smith (Court House Manager) 03 9735 1104
Email: info@lilydalehistorical.com.au

Share Your Information with the Society!

Email us your info (and images) to:
info@lilydalehistorical.com.au

Our home is the Old Lilydale Court House @
61 Castella Street, Lilydale 3140
Hours of opening:
By appointment only:
Fridays 1 to 4pm and Saturdays to Mondays 11am to 4pm.
Sundays are preferred.
Closed Public Holidays