Hall retention a priority from meeting

By Yarrawonga Chronicle

More than 120 local residents attended a community meeting last Wednesday to discuss Moira Shire Council’s plans to build a new library at the Town Hall Precinct site and as a result demolish the community hall. 

The meeting, run by the Friends of Community and Town Hall Action Group gave three community members, also members of the action group, a chance to deliberate on differing aspects of the plan as well as letting Deputy Mayor Peter Lawless the chance to speak on behalf of council and answer questions. 

Subjects discussed at the meeting related to the need for the former primary school site on Piper Street to be acquired by council and its suitability for the siting of a new library, the need for council to act on prior planning recommendations to provide more parking in central Yarrawonga and the significance of the Yarrawonga Community Hall and the argument against the demolition of the hall.

Each speaker was allowed seven minutes to speak on behalf of concerns of community members and the action group. 

“The ‘red school’ site should be negotiated for a discounted price, only council can negotiate with the Victorian School building authority,” Geoff Campbell said.

“The importance of the old school site is paramount to Yarrawonga.” .

Jeanette Wilson spoke next surrounding the demolition of the community hall.

“My role is to convince you that the Yarrawonga Community Hall should be retained and upgraded as part of Yarrawonga’s Social Dance and Performing Arts precinct, along with the town hall and a new library built elsewhere,” Ms Wilson said. 

“If the old kindergarten is demolished it makes sense to retain that area for additional performance facilities adjacent to the halls.  Yarrawonga’s population is growing rapidly.  

“One day there might be a Yarrawonga Performing Arts Centre. 

“Demolishing the Community Hall and building a new library on the site prevents this.

“The sensible forward-thinking course of action for council is to retain and sensitively upgrade the existing halls and find an alternative location for the library. 

“As Geoff has shown the red school site or part of it would provide a far more attractive location for a library.”

Lastly Carol Henderson spoke on the issue of parking in the town centre. 

“The Draft Master Plan, after a number of versions it has been released for comment. It has 6 or 7 car parking spaces on the site for library staff, there is no provision for parking for library users,” Carol said. 

“As most of us understand the majority of functions that are held in the town hall and community hall are conducted in the evenings, and on weekends.  This is not the case for the library which will be open at the same time as the shops/businesses and so users of the library will be competing for parking spaces.  

“No private organisation would gain approval from council to build a building which required public access without providing a car park, yet here we have our own council doing exactly that.   “It is quite simple……no parking provided…no use of the facility.

“Part of the YPS (Yarrawonga Primary School) site could provide parking for tourists, for people attending events being held on the foreshore, at a library and associated buildings in a community centre.”

Moira Shire Councillor Peter Lawless then responded saying council are taking on board the issues raised.

“Council have certainly looked into what’s available and the old school site is currently not available,” Cr Lawless said. “We are not just going to get given the land.

“The responses from the steering committee and reference group have been positive and we have also heard from people who support the decision.

“We cannot argue parking isn’t going to be a problem but there is going to have to be a compromise.”

Cr Lawless also answered the questions raised by members of the community who spoke during a ‘public gallery’ type proceeding. 

To conclude proceedings three motions were put forward to the residents and passed: That Moira Shire Council negotiate to acquire the former Yarrawonga State Primary School site for community use. 2.  That Moira Shire Council not spend more money on plans for a library on the “Town Hall precinct”. 3.  That Moira Shire Council rescind its motion to demolish the Yarrawonga Community Hall.

Parliamentarians Tim McCurdy and Tania Maxwell, Councillors Kevin Bourke and Peter Mansfield were also in attendance at the meeting.