Decades after it was introduced, Victoria Park Lake is well and truly a cornerstone of the city of Shepparton.
So central and iconic a site is the lake and surrounding parklands, it seems ridiculous to imagine what the modern-day city site might look like had the lake not been created.
During the noisy and divisive discussion about the forthcoming new Shepparton Art Museum, to be constructed at the lake’s southern shores, some have pointed to the lake’s creation when reflecting on the resulting outcry possible when dramatic changes to the landscape are mooted.
According to some accounts, similar outcry was aired when the creation of the lake was first flagged.
Fast forward to today and it seems difficult to argue it was an unwise idea, if only based on the level of use the precinct gets from Sheppartonians, the level of attention it receives from visitors, and its modern-day standing as the city’s premier leisure precinct.
The new SAM being built seems to be another pivotal moment for Shepparton, in part given that it is set to change the landscape of the southern part of the city, as well as transform and build on the existing lake precinct.
There is no doubt there continues to be strong voices disapproving of the new SAM development, and some of the arguments put forward are valid.
Concerns about the new structure dominating the landscape have merit, as do questions about why the lake precinct was chosen as the ideal site.
Plenty of positives exist for the site to be established at the lake precinct and be the centrepiece of the Shepparton council’s master plan for this area.
The News remains firmly in favour of the new SAM development. It presents a rare and unmissable opportunity to secure and establish a first class cultural precinct of national significance in the city.
It also presents a valuable opportunity to leverage off and add significant value to an already iconic city site, making the most of a strengthening visitor economy.
Several other key changes are on the horizon for the site, as sketched out in the master plan, most of which will seek to improve areas, create new precincts, upgrade dated facilities and further beautify the area.
It is also pivotal that changes and developments to the area roll in as much consultation and public feedback as possible.
Development of the precinct is welcome, so long as it is in line with the broadest cross-section of lake users and residents as possible. The lake should be a site Sheppartonians can feel ownership of and make use of at their leisure, wherever possible.
Let’s hope the forthcoming changes to the area can, as time goes by, prove as well-loved as the modern-day lake has become for the city.