$500,000 needed for hub

Warragul & Drouin Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - by Keith Anderson

Drouin can get its own readyto-use com­mu­nity hub for a mere half-a-mil­lion dol­lars. The once-off op­por­tu­nity is for a com­mu­nity group to buy the Old Drouin But­ter Fac­tory in South Rd. The venue has been re­de­vel­oped over the past 30 years as a mix of café/restau­rant, meet­ing rooms, two theatres and art gallery space with the po­ten­tial to add sales points, artists work­shop spa­ces and com­mu­nity gar­dens. The build­ing has been pro­gres­sively up­graded from a derelict state by three mem­bers of the O’Don­nell fam­ily. The only sur­viv­ing mem­ber of trio Ken O’Don­nell now wants to sell. His first of­fer is for a not-for­profit com­mu­nity body to take it over as a live mu­sic, vis­ual arts and com­mu­nity cen­tre. The price was de­scribed as “cheap” and well be­low market value by lo­cal res­i­dent Rhona Hen­drick, a mem­ber of an in­terim com­mit­tee of man­age­ment of the fa­cil­ity, but con­di­tional on it be­ing utilised as a cen­tral com­mu­nity fea­ture for the town.

The old fac­tory build­ing’s façade has Na­tional Trust Historic Build­ings list­ing and since its ini­tial es­tab­lish­ment in 1904 has been used as a but­ter fac­tory, power sta­tion, grain store, fer­tiliser out­let be­fore its most re­cent in­car­na­tion.

Ms Hen­drick said the big chal­lenge was rais­ing the $500,000 needed.

The in­terim com­mit­tee of Ms Hen­drick, Tim Wills, Jeanne Haughton, Leane Good­ing, Ellen Bur­rows, Vin Bibby and Judy Farmer is al­ready mov­ing to­wards form­ing an in­cor­po­rated not-for-profit body as a first step.

They aim to raise the pur­chase price or have com­mit­ments to meet it by the mid­dle of next year.

Mr O’Don­nell has given ap­proval for the in­terim com­mit­tee to help with running the fa­cil­ity un­til its sale.

He has said he wants it re­tained for com­mu­nity if at all pos­si­ble.

An open day has been or­gan­ised for next Sun­day, be­tween 10am to 5pm, to en­able mem­bers of the pub­lic to see what the com­mu­nity can get, or what it might miss out on.

Ms Hen­drick said Drouin cur­rently has no pub­lic meet­ing place and for years in­di­vid­u­als and groups had wished for a com­mu­nity hub.

The open day will give peo­ple a chance to view the ren­o­vated build­ings and con­sider ways they might serve com­mu­nity needs, she said.

Mem­ber­ship and sup­port to buy the prop­erty will be sought from a wide va­ri­ety of ex­ist­ing com­mu­nity groups, busi­nesses, or­gan­i­sa­tions and in­di­vid­u­als.

Ms Hen­drick said the old fac­tory was per­fectly lo­cated for a com­mu­nity cen­tre be­ing on a cen­tral and con­ve­nient site close to the shop­ping cen­tre and rail­way sta­tion.

Pho­to­graph: MICHAEL ROBIN­SON

Sup­port­ers of the cam­paign to have the com­mu­nity buy the re­de­vel­oped Old Drouin But­ter Fac­tory premises in­clude, from left, Vin Bibby, Rhona Hen­drick, Des Hughes, Sue Os­born and Tim Wills.

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