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A GREAT wall of “cookie cutter” fences is being built by the Andrews Government below its sky rail project to appease residents angry that trains will run high over their backyards.
The fencing and landscaping package deal for up to 350 homes abutting the Caulfield to Dandenong sky rail corridor could cost taxpayers millions.
The government’s Level Crossing Removal Authority — which is lifting the rail line onto 10m-high pylons for the $1.6 billion project — has offered to pay for six different fence styles and screening trees up to 20m tall to assuage security and privacy concerns.
But the householders fear that their new fences could — along with the 350 concrete pylons marching along the Cranbourne-Pakenham line — become magnets for graffiti.
The “awful” fence options include timber, pool-style metal and weldmesh.
Jayne and Fred Menke have a pylon practically in their backyard. Picture: Alex CoppelLandscapers conservatively estimate installing the fence and an adequate amount of screening trees, like ficus and evergreen magnolia, could cost at least $5000 per household.
So Victorian taxpayers could shell out $1.75 million on fences and landscaping. But those project costs are likely to soar if residents have minor modification of fencing, more mature trees and irrigation systems approved.
The Level Crossing Removal Authority is yet to release a figure on the cost of the landscaping and fencing.
Project director Brett Summers said residents could make their homes more secluded or open up to the parkland replacing ground-level tracks.
He said the authority would have a maintenance fund to ensure the open space underneath stayed green.
But Carnegie resident Bindy McSherry said the authority had barely offered more than the standard fence height.
“What they are offering in the way of fencing is ridiculous, some of the options are awful,” she said.
She feared the fences would attract vandals via the easily accessible new parkland. And the fence heights would not prevent rail users peering into her backyard.
Carnegie resident Bindy McSherry says the fencing on offer is “ridiculous”. Picture: Alex Coppel
Bindy McSherry fears the fences will attract vandals. Picture: Alex CoppelOpposition planning spokesman David Davis said the “nasty and cheap” fence styles would provide a blank canvas for ugly graffiti. He said the restricted choices offered “no individuality, only cookie cutter drabness’’.
“Sadly, nothing will hide, cover or block the gigantic brutalist sky rail which will be seen and heard from kilometres away,” he said.
About 30 people have elected to sell their homes to the Level Crossing Removal Authority. About 100 more are eligible — but for those ineligible, there is only the landscaping and fencing to appease them.
Carnegie resident Timothy Osborn in front his new concrete pylon view. Picture: Alex Coppel
The construction of the new Sky Rail in Murrumbeena and Carnegie. Resident Margaret Carmody. Picture: Alex Coppel
Sam, 12, Ella, 10, and Sophie, 8, live next to the railway line. Picture: Alex CoppelThe owner of Lisa Ellis Gardens recommended residents invest in reliable evergreen trees that could grow to a screening height.
Lisa Ellis said a standard timber paling fence to 2.9m painted in a dark colour might cost $4000-$6000. A superior bamboo clumping option could cost $10,000.
Landscaper Carl Schleiger said building a 2.9m timber fence and using the seven common trees offered could cost about $5000.
Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said elevating the line was the best way to get rid of the nine level crossings on the corridor.
BATTLERS GIVE UP AS COMMUNITY BEATENAFTER dedicating a year to fighting the sky rail construction next to their property, the Menke family have cut their losses and sold their house to the state government
Jayne Menke said she and husband Fred had called Rosstown Rd, Carnegie home for 22 years but the sight of the towering pylons had finally convinced them to move on.
“We only just got the house to the way we wanted it,” she said.
“When it was first announced we campaigned and campaigned, but it’s gotten to the point where we’ve just had to give up.”
Jayne and Fred Menke are moving due to the sight of towering pylons. Picture: Alex CoppelMrs Menke said Carnegie and Murrumbeena would never be the same because young families had fled the construction and moved on.
“The whole suburb is ruined really, the community has been broken by this,” she said. “All along the rail line people have taken the money and run away. One thing that’s gone unsaid is that the sound of the freight trains will be even worse when it’s elevated.”
From her backyard on Blackwood St, Bindy McSherry has watched the shadows of the pylons grow over her vegetable patch as development speeds up.
“Behind my property the area was lush with big tall trees but they’ve all been chopped down and all you can see is the sky rail now.”
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