William Sharp has been campaigning for infrastructure such as schools and kindergartens in Mernda for a number of years. He talks with Laura Michell.

 

What is your connection to Whittlesea?

My greatest connection to Whittlesea is family; three children and three grandchildren (all born at the Northern Hospital) have attended school or kinder in Whittlesea. Another connection to Whittlesea would be successful advocacy campaigns for educational facilities and commercial infrastructure in Mernda. Some of the campaigns involved thousands of hours and many meetings and submissions and had a feeling of relief when positive results were achieved.

 

What do you like about where you live?

I like the rural aspect of the area but also like being close to infrastructure and services and living in Mernda it provides easy access to both city and country. Whittlesea has
an abundance of natural assets, Plenty River and parklands, Growling Frog golf course and nature reserve, Yan Yean reservoir,
Kinglake National Park, Toorourrong Reservoir Park, Yellow Gum Park. Whittlesea township also has a good commercial centre with a country town feel and the local swimming pool is a good place to take the kids on a summer’s day.

 

What, if anything, would you like to change?

I would endeavour to change the focus of our local council from funding and producing endless studies and strategies often duplicating state and federal government initiatives and policies and focus on delivering value for money for the residents and stop selling off parklands and open space for more housing development. In the eastern estates in Mernda, where I live, we have lost a significant part of our open space and habitat to facilitate more small housing lots.

 

How has Mernda changed over the years?

While services and infrastructure has proceeded in other parts of the City of Whittlesea, Mernda has lagged behind. We are still waiting for the main road out of our estate to be finished, along with footpaths along Plenty and Bridge Inn roads. Poor planning and management has been a disaster for many residents resulting in a high turnover of people in the surrounding neighbourhoods – many selling up after establishing their families here.

 

Where is your favourite local place to spend time?

Prior to the rail works, like many local residents, I enjoyed spending time exploring the Gorge River parklands in Mernda. Yan Yean Reservoir is good open space and I take the grandkids regularly. The new Westfield entertainment extension has also been a favorite.