The parents of murdered Frankston student Natalie Russell have welcomed plans for a memorial artwork and other upgrades at the track named in their daughter’s memory.
Brian and Carmel Russell said it brought them joy to know that Natalie would not be forgotten and that Frankston City Council had acknowledged and was paying tribute to her. “We are pleased and honoured about the works,” Mr Russell said. “It’s what we have wanted and they will improve safety.”
Mr Russell said his family was looking forward to being involved in the creation of the artwork, part of an $87,000 package of upgrades that also includes solar lights, landscape beautification, and public art at the track’s southern and northern entry points.
Seventeen-year-old Natalie was murdered by Frankston serial killer Paul Denyer on July 30, 1993, as she walked home from John Paul College along the popular student thoroughfare that links the college and nearby Monterey Secondary College via Peninsula Kingswood Country Golf Club. Since then, significant safety and amenity improvements have been carried out by the council, including the installation of CCTV cameras at the Skye Rd end of the track with footage streamed live to the Frankston police station, and warning signs and access gates to deter monkey bike activity.
Decorative planter boxes have been built as part of a Monterey Secondary College VCAL program and filled with indigenous plants that were cultivated by volunteers using locally sourced seeds. With council support, the golf club replaced 100m of fence which will be used to display artistic panels designed by John Paul College students. The track was also recently repaved to improve wheelchair and bicycle accessibility.
John Paul College principal John Visentin said the school community was proud to be a partner in the project to ensure Nat’s Track was safe for students and the wider public. “Our students acknowledge the college’s special link and responsibility for this track and they look forward to lending their skills and time to bring this project to its completion.”
Monterey Secondary College acting principal Peter Langham said: “Our school community welcomes the upgrades and our students are excited to contribute to the beautification and upkeep of Nat’s Track.”
Cr Sue Baker said: “The memory of what happened to Natalie and (Denyer’s) other victims will forever live on in the hearts and minds of our community, so it is essential that (Nat’s Track) is well maintained and remains a fitting tribute.”
Frankston state Labor MP Paul Edbrooke said: “It is great to work with council and show how different levels of government working together can achieve great things in our community.”