Save the hall: Dump council
Finley’s Save the War Memorial Hall Association says it will attempt to have Berrigan Shire Council removed as trustee of the heritage precinct.
Association president Patricia Boyd said this latest push was the result of a long fought battle over plans to redevelop the hall and the adjacent School of Arts hall.
‘‘We are in the throes of sending this petition to New South Wales Parliament, to remove council as trustee of the hall, because we’ve had enough,’’ Mrs Boyd said.
‘‘We have been battling on this since 2015; battling these concepts from council that keep changing.’’
Berrigan Shire Council first floated a proposal to demolish the Finley War Memorial Hall in 2015. It was met with strong community opposition, which saw the association formed at a public meeting.
In June last year council revised its plans, opting to keep the War Memorial Hall but concentrate its rejuvenation works on the SOA.
Council’s option includes removing the annex adjoining the halls and building new toilet and kitchen facilities in the school building. The two buildings currently share toilets in the annex area.
The association responded with its own proposal for the precinct, developed by an independent consultant. It outlines upgrading both halls and keeping a redesigned annex.
It would retain the existing toilet facilities, and include the provision of another incorporating a shower adjacent a new storeroom at the rear of the heritage-listed SOA building. The storeroom would be located in an area allocated in council’s plans for a carpark of up to 15 vehicles.
While council’s plans do retain both buildings, Mrs Boyd said there were still some concerns as to whether it will impact on the area’s heritage.
To further discuss the potential implications, the association met with two representatives from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage in Finley last week.
The representatives also met with Berrigan Shire Council and visited other heritage buildings in the town.
The department has scheduled a return visit to Finley on June 21 to continue discussions.
Berrigan Shire Mayor Matt Hannan said as the SOA is heritage listed, it is a requirement that OEH is involved in any processes going forward.
‘‘There is a heritage precinct in Finley and it needs to be exposed,’’ Cr Hannan said.
‘‘What council is trying to do is preserve the history of the School of Arts hall and down the track, if usage can be demonstrated, we may look at similar upgrades for the War Memorial Hall which is not officially listed.
‘‘From a renovation point of view for the heritage building, we do have to engage with the Office of Environment and Heritage, and we’re happy to do that, but we do want to get on with this project.’’
Architectural designs for the upgrades are being finalised. Cr Hannan said once they are complete, council will put the project out to tender. He expects is will be done in the second half of this year.