The safety and interests of the 8000 people living in Kilmore trump the demands of a small minority protesting against cypress trees cut down at Kilmore Racecourse and Recreational Reserve, according to its trustees chairman Danny Laws.
Protestors, led by Kilmore and District Residents and Ratepayers Association, have been vocal against the removal of the 39 trees along Kilmore East Road, alongside Kilmore racecourse, last month.
But Trustees of Kilmore Racecourse and Recreational Reserve say plans for the area will make it safer, more user-friendly and possibly a tourist-attraction for the town.
Mr Laws said wood from a handful of trees cut down would be put to good use.
“The local men’s shed will make picnic tables to place around the reserve,” he said.
“In addition, the remaining stumps will be carved by prominent sculptor and tree carver Rob Bast, in 12 months from now, which will no doubt draw more tourists to the area.”
Mr Laws said the trustees had no political agenda, only a desire to see the reserve used for one of its primary purposes – legitimate recreational activities.
“We will be seeking funding from the State Government to bring our plans for a walking trail to fruition,” he said.
“For a number of years, now, we have been working hard on developing a safe walking trail in the reserve for the use of local residents – both young and old.
“We have been encouraged to do so by many in our community including walking clubs and schools. We’ve held consultations with all primary stakeholders, with a view to ensuring the environmental and cultural issues were addressed.”
Mr Laws said the trees were cut down for safety reasons in the area known as the Old Members Drive at the reserve.
“This was on the basis of professional advice received from qualified arborists who said the trees were ‘failing’, that is structurally unsound and they presented a very real danger to public safety,” he said.
“Specifically to pedestrian traffic – walkers – in their vicinity and passing motor vehicles on the Kilmore East Road.
“A measure of the very real danger they presented is that one large pine tree almost took out a Telstra tower in the area.”
Mr Laws said the trees’ removal was also approved by both the State Government and Mitchell Shire Council for safety reasons.
“To compensate for their loss, we intend to plant up to 100 new tress in the avenue which will be a lot safer for the public,” he said.
Mr Laws said a small number of protestors had seen fit to dismiss the professional advice in pursuit of their own agenda.
He emphasised the reserve, as its name suggested, was designed to be used for recreational purposes.
“I cannot imagine anything more healthy than the development of a safe walking trail within it for which there is significant public support,” he said.
Mr Laws said an attempt for the pine trees at the reserve to be ‘heritage-listed’ several years ago had failed because they were not deemed to be of historical significance.