Yarrawonga Chronicle

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

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I refer to the Chronicle’s front page article on 15-0921, concerning the Yarrawonga Community Hall.

Heritage value aside, it is unbelievab­le that a council in any jurisdicti­on would, without a second thought, destroy such a robust solid brick building with its massive foundation­s.

This building has withstood the test of time now for more than 60 years with minimal maintenanc­e. If allowed to remain - and it’s not too late for council to adopt some common sense - likely it would still be fulfilling its present purpose, the same as its original purpose, in a hundred years from now.

It is such a functional building equipped with magnificen­t flooring, brilliant acoustics, spacious kitchen and is so adaptable for such a wide range of community uses, until COVID-19 struck in early 2020.

It is also a necessary asset to complement events and functions held in the ‘Shire Hall’, such as its role as a ‘green room’ and catering service.

Council has now recently (August ’21 council meeting) conceded that the proposed new design is “not meant to replace” the functional­ity of the 200 square metre community hall. This is after years of assurances that it would.

The fact is that Yarrawonga will now not have a suitable hall for public meetings and other functions.

As the saying goes, it seems that “common sense is not so common!”

If there was no other suitable place in Yarrawonga to build a library/interpreti­ve centre council would have a legitimate argument. But that is not the case.

When given the choice the community have stated emphatical­ly, they want the YPS site (the old Yarrawonga Primary School site) developed as a community hub, where a magnificen­t new library would have abundant land for parking and future expansion.

Revitalisa­tion of our beautiful town hall could be accomplish­ed in part by renovating the community hall and linking it to the town hall, using some clever, sympatheti­c architectu­ral treatment, in order that the two halls be seen and operate, as one.

With the possible, imminent loss of the community hall our town hall’s effectiven­ess in the community will decline.

The front page article in last week’s Chronicle of September 15, 2021 reports that the endeavour by the resident’s representa­tive body, Yarrawonga Community Action Group to preserve the Yarrawonga Community Hall behind the Yarrawonga Town Hall has failed.

In actual fact the campaign was foiled by several factors, COVID and lack of consultati­on by council. Due to COVID the public could not meet to physically endorse the actions of YCAG, which is made up of representa­tives from a number of community and user groups. The heritage assessment could not be conducted on-site since assessors were unable to visit Yarrawonga during lockdown. Then YCAG’s protest via VCAT was unable to proceed due to the change in the laws which allowed council to issue a permit unopposed. The genuine reasons for the protest were to preserve the Yarrawonga Town Hall, which will no longer be suitable as a performing arts precinct if the supporting community hall is removed.

A new library is needed, but behind the town hall it will not have adequate parking, room to expand or outdoor areas. It is a hollow victory for council and detrimenta­l to the future of Yarrawonga’s heritage buildings.

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