Goulburn community groups look for permanent home

IN TALKS: U3A secretary Pat Spilsbury, president Brian Spilsbury (junior) and members Diane Picker, Brian Spilsbury (senior), Ray Shiel and Roslyn Thomson.
IN TALKS: U3A secretary Pat Spilsbury, president Brian Spilsbury (junior) and members Diane Picker, Brian Spilsbury (senior), Ray Shiel and Roslyn Thomson.

The council is considering the Recreation Area as an option to accommodate a community centre for groups and services.

It comes as the State Government reviews use of Crown land and whether councils can be given greater ownership of the areas they currently manage. General manager Warwick Bennett and Cr Peter Walker met with Lands Minister Paul Toole about the issue in Sydney two weeks ago

It’s early days yet but Mr Bennett says it’s one alternative to permanently house services and community organisations currently accommodated in the McDermott Centre. Many of these will shift into the former Huntly Arcade, part of which the council is renting in the short-term.

But long-term it wants to buy or build a permanent space. A total $4 million is allocated in the 2018/19 budget for the purpose. Councillors at their last meeting considered the former Crazy Clark’s building in Auburn Street but asked staff to also explore other options.

Read more

Mr Bennett said a purpose-built facility next to the Scout Hall on the corner of Addison and Bourke Streets could also be considered. He did not elaborate but said councillors would ponder the possibilities in a briefing session in coming weeks.

While many groups will be accommodated in the Huntly Arcade and ultimately, permanent premises, the University of the Third Age (U3A) is still looking. Until December they’re ensconced in the council’s former Bourke Street depot with the Goulburn Gem Society.

Secretary Pat Spilsbury said the facility was ideal for the group’s 40 weekly courses and 200 students.  But the council had asked U3A to move out by the end of this year ahead of the depot’s sale.

The University of the Third Age is worried about its future beyond the end of this year.

“There’s so much room at the depot that we’d like to stay there permanently,” she said.

Her husband and U3A president Brian Spilsbury (senior) said it was important to work with the council but he questioned why it was selling the depot.

“We’ve been using this and it would be good if others could too,” he said.

“For some reason they want to sell this building and buy something else, which doesn’t make sense.”

U3A investigated a move to Workspace 2580 but found it could not afford the rent. 

Mr and Mrs Spilsbury feared the group would fold if it couldn’t find a space. It also had to buy more furniture for the depot, which would have to be stored.

Goulburn Gem Society secretary Sue O'Neill says the Bourke Street space is ideal for the group, which wants to stay put.

Goulburn Gem Society secretary Sue O'Neill says the Bourke Street space is ideal for the group, which wants to stay put.

Gem Society secretary Sue O’Neill said her group would also like to stay put.

“It’s a fantastic space, just what we need,” she said. 

The Society’s 43 members have utilised an office, workroom and tutor room there since last June when they moved from the McDermott Centre. 

Mr Spilsbury said it would be ideal if all groups could be housed in the one community centre.

But for now, neither group is included in such considerations.

Mr Bennett said there was an opportunity for the council to partner with the organisations to obtain grants and construct a purpose-built facility. But it raised the question of whether this was a council role.

Meantime, management is looking for accommodation for U3A, the Gem Society and the Goulburn Arts Society.

Mr Bennett said the old depot’s future was up for discussion as part of looking at all of the council’s strategic land.

But he pointed out that councillors previously resolved to sell it and the Dossie Street depot to help fund construction of the new Hetherington Street depot. If the decision was reversed, alternative funds would be needed.

“(But) I think there are better long-term options than the (Bourke Street) depot for a modern community centre,” he said.

The council's depot in Bourke Street will be sold after the end of this year. Currently, two community groups are using the space.

The council's depot in Bourke Street will be sold after the end of this year. Currently, two community groups are using the space.

Comments