Save the hall: Dump coun­cil

Southern Riverina news - - NEWS -

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.

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