Community Politics/Government

Wingecarribee Council to Overhaul the Civic Centre

Wingecarribee Shire Council has announced their intention to renovate the Shire’s ageing Civic Centre today.

General Manager Jason Gordon says the building is in need of some major work:

in its current state the building does not meet numerous modern building codes including accessibility and mobility, environmental, customer and Workplace Health and Safety standards.

Council proposes to spend up to $5million on the work and the documents published on the web hint more work may be required. In other words, the $5million might not be enough to ensure the building can continue to serve it’s purpose. The future of the Moss Vale library, adjacent to the Civic Centre, is raised in the document. It also points to an uncertain future for that part of Moss Vale, given upcoming developments in the area.

For several years, various groups in the Southern Highlands have been fighting a turf war for their pet large infrastructure project, whether a leisure centre, a regional art gallery or a regional theatre. As it stands, Council has decided to put a tin shed roof over Moss Vale pool, which is also adjacent to the Civic Centre, in lieu of a full-blown leisure centre with a 50metre pool. In addition to the pool, library and civic centre, Council owns the Community Oval and other parcels of land on the street. The diagram below shows the approximate extent of this land, highlighted in red.

To spend $5million on an impermanent solution seems foolish. Council could show some vision and leadership and develop a comprehensive proposal meeting all of these needs for now and well into the future. Moss Vale is well supported by rail and road links, and is almost the centre of the Shire. Council could seek an interest free loan from the state and/or federal governments to fund the entire development, and wouldn’t then need to pay an interest-bearing loan. The nearby Community Oval could also be extensively upgraded as part of the work. Examples of the types of loans given by the NSW State Government in the past are available on the NSW Planning website. The Gallery and Theatre administration could be a combined enterprise, reducing costs, while those two ventures themselves have the potential to generate significant income. The leisure centre likewise could attract enough users to be financially viable.

This type of development is much-needed in the shire, and sought by dozens of community groups. Unlike various private plans put forward, it wouldn’t need to be in a green-field site.

The community is fed up with empty promises and pontification – from current and former Councillors – on all of these projects. It’s time the Highlands grows up and builds the facilities the community deserves.

2 replies on “Wingecarribee Council to Overhaul the Civic Centre”

All the loans you pointed to are to do with infrastrucute, i.e roads, water supplies, sewerage services, stormwater drains etc, that many Councils have difficulty funding to fill their full useful lives. These community projects would be better funded through grants established for this purpose, which I’m sure council has pursued.

I think the Civic Centre should be the first priority – where will the staff go when the centre is inhabitable? Look at today’s paper:
How do you expect to attract well experienced people to manage these projects when their workspace is like this? They will go to other councils/private enterprise.

I’m not sure what point you’re making here. Okay, I may not have looked over the loans that I linked to in a lot of detail, so that is a fair criticism. But then you say we can’t attract decent staff because the Civic Centre is in need of overhaul. The proposal I outlined would be that overhaul. My main objection to what has been proposed by Council is that they are spending $5million when they admit it still might not fix the problem, and further alterations may be needed (plus the question mark over Moss Vale Library). If you’re going to spend a large amount of money, why not do the job properly and build a large administrative centre that will meet the needs of a growing Shire, and incorporate the stuff people are crying out for?

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