Hall plan progressed
Council appoints architect to help develop concept
Berrigan Shire Council is pressing on with plans for the Finley School of Arts precinct redevelopment.
At September’s meeting, council appointed an architect to develop the concept plans — which were adopted by council in July — into a detailed set of plans to get development consent and then go to tender.
The plans will keep the War Memorial Hall but separate the two halls (Memorial Hall and School of Arts) physically and operationally.
The cost of the project is estimated to be $480,000, subject to the receipt of a $200,000 grant.
Although at this stage it will not be demolished as originally planned, Mayor Matt Hannan said the future of the Memorial Hall is in the hands of the community.
He said council will assess its usage over the next three years before making any decisions about its future, be it upgrading, removing it or something else entirely.
‘‘Council has accepted the challenge of the community in agreeing to retain the War Memorial Hall for three years to see if sustainable use can be demonstrated in the medium term,’’ Cr Hannan said.
“The Finley War Memorial Hall’s future is, and will always be, determined by the community’s use of the facility,” he said.
He said council is committed to protecting and refurbishing the heritage listed School of Arts Hall over the next 12 months.
‘‘Council listened to the community and were mindful of the need to improve the amenities, access and renovate the kitchen, whilst leaving the War Memorial Hall in place,’’ Cr Hannan said.
“Understanding that not all are going to agree with these plans, the community will get an upgraded and accessible School of Arts which again is a good thing,’’ he said.
Cr Hannan said since talks of redevelopment first began his ‘‘highest priority was and still is’’ that Finley youth had somewhere to play basketball.
Initially council explored the option of relocating basketball to the Finley Showgrounds Indoor Sports Centre.
However, Cr Hannan said council was told that it was ‘‘unsuitable’’ for young people to play basketball there.
“Council listened to those concerns and as a result, basketball is now being played on a regular basis by over 60 young people at the War Memorial Hall,’’ Cr Hannan said.
“The youth of our town, which I am passionate about, are now able to gain knowledge and skills in the game of basketball, leadership and team skills through this experience.
“Whilst I understand there will still be disagreement in our community, I believe this development will be a way forward for those interested in both basketball and the arts, and in keeping both groups satisfied.’’
Tocumwal RFS members Garry Bond (Captain), Dean Keleher, Melissa Jarrett, Stuart Richards and John Keleher.