Spirit of Play’s fu­ture guar­an­teed

Albany Extra - - News - Saskia Adysti

A Den­mark school has re­ceived ap­proval to op­er­ate from a re­serve site for an­other 15 years, de­spite the con­cerns of lo­cal groups.

At last week’s Shire of Den­mark coun­cil meet­ing, coun­cil­lors voted to al­low Spirit of Play Com­mu­nity School to con­tinue to op­er­ate at the for­mer Den­mark rail­way sta­tion site un­til 2033.

The school had wanted a 21year lease but Shire chief ex­ec­u­tive Bill Parker rec­om­mended the shorter length as a com­pro­mise with other lo­cal groups, which had voiced con­cern on the school’s pro­posal.

“The pro­posal is con­sis­tent with a num­ber of el­e­ments in the Strate­gic Com­mu­nity Plan, namely her­itage, ed­u­ca­tion and econ­omy,” his re­port to the coun­cil said. “In this sit­u­a­tion, it can be seen as com­pet­ing, par­tic­u­larly when you put her­itage against ed­u­ca­tion and econ­omy.”

As well as de­vel­op­ing the area to ac­com­mo­date more stu­dents, the school plans to build a na­ture play area for the pub­lic and in­stall in­ter­pre­ta­tive signs to high­light the his­tory of the precinct.

The coun­cil’s de­ci­sion has re­ceived crit­i­cism from the Den­mark His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety and the Den­mark Ma­chin­ery Restora­tion Group, with DHS deputy chair­man Ash­leigh Murch writ­ing to the coun­cil warn­ing the site was not an ap­pro­pri­ate lo­ca­tion for the school.

The con­cerns in­cludes lim­i­ta­tion on fu­ture de­vel­op­ment to at­tract vis­i­tors; the pub­lic feel­ing un­com­fort­able en­ter­ing a school site; and re­stric­tions on park­ing space at Li­ons Lair.

“Whilst the Den­mark His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety and the Den­mark Ma­chin­ery Restora­tion Group have agreed to com­pro­mise, they wanted to make it clear that this is not to be seen as them be­ing agree­able to a school be­ing lo­cated on the his­tor­i­cal precinct,” Mr Parker wrote in the re­port to the coun­cil.

Spirit of Play Com­mu­nity School chair­man Carl Hes­lop said the coun­cil de­ci­sion had been a great win for the school, which was plan­ning to im­prove the her­itage site. The school has also agreed to work with the DHS to pre­serve and dis­play relics found on the land.

“As the fu­ture his­to­ri­ans of Den­mark, our stu­dents love learn­ing about our shared his­tory,” Mr Hes­lop said.

“This lease brings sta­bil­ity and an ac­knowl­edge­ment of our im­por­tant place in Den­mark’s com­mu­nity.

“This will be a multi-year staged project with strong col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Den­mark His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety and other groups to achieve com­mon goals.”

Pic­ture: Carl Hes­lop

Spirit of Play Com­mu­nity School at the re­serve site area.

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