The University of the Third Age (U3A) in Goulburn is a hive of activity.
This term alone they are running 60 courses and it is all being coordinated and taught by volunteers.
If you cost that in human hours alone, it is a considerable investment in the community's health and well-being.
This contribution has now been acknowledged and backed by the council, who have entered into a 10-year year lease agreement with them, with a five-year right of renewal, at the August 6 Goulburn Mulwaree Council meeting.
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The lease applies to their current 246 sq m premises at the Bourke Street Community Centre site at $10 per sq m, making it an annual rental of $2460.
It is quite a nod of approval for the U3A, as the initial report to the council only offered a three-year lease.
At the council meeting, Cr Peter Walker spoke in favour of extending the lease.
"They are doing a great job in the community," Cr Walker said.
"They are currently putting in about 6000 volunteer hours and it warrants us giving them some longevity to allow them surety to provide the services they do."
There was some discussion about whether such a long lease should be granted, considering a new Community Centre is planned and expected to be built by about March 2023.
The report to the meeting stated: "The council should not lock itself into long lease agreements when the development of the proposed new Community Centre is yet to be planned and finalised."
However, Cr Walker said the Goulburn and District Art Society had also been offered a 10-year lease in the same facility.
He also pointed out there was a clause in the recommendation whereby the council could cancel the lease by giving six-month's notice in writing.
"I invite all councillors to go down there and take a look at what they do," Cr Walker said.
"If they didn't do it then this council would have to pick it up."
The new motion was carried.
The U3A and other community groups have been at the site, the former Council Public Works Depot, in Combermere St, since about mid-2018. A quick visit to the site on Friday revealed many activities going on including Tai-Chi, a photography class and art-making.
President Pat Spilsbury welcomed the lease, saying it would give them more surety so they could plan ahead.
"A lot of the courses are a year long, so we needed some certainty," she said.
They like the premises.
"We'd like to stay here," she said.
"This is a great building and we have lots of room for everything, including storage.
"We'd like to thank the council for allowing this."
She said the 40 tutors who run the 60 courses are all members.
The U3A not only provides a space for activities but also for social connection.
"This has been shown to be important in preventing diseases like dementia," she said.
"Exercise is also important. You can't hit a moving target.
"You need the social element as well as the activity to help prevent the isolation many seniors can feel in the community."
Just a quick glimpse of some of the activities on offer there include book clubs, choirs, kayaking, bushwalking, walking gardening and astronomy.
Five languages are also taught at the centre including French, German, Spanish, Italian and Auslan.
New members are always welcome.
It costs $50 a year to join and then $5-10 for a class. Checkout the U3A Goulburn website page for more information.
Apart from U3A, a purpose-built community centre on the site would house former McDermott Centre groups like Leisure Link and youth services as well as the Goulburn and District Arts Society.
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