Tuesday, 29 September 2020
Going, going … almost gone

In the three weeks since Deconstruction Group took over the site of the Cowes Cultural Centre, they’ve wasted no time getting on with the job.

The internal fixtures were stripped first before the machinery arrived on site to start demolishing the building.

Community concerns

The decision to knock down the old building before the upcoming election and without final plans continues to attract criticism.

Ronnie Bauer, a candidate for Island Ward said he was worried the incoming councillors could “inherit a poisoned chalice” citing concerns about the “costs that may be needed to bring the project to a satisfactory conclusion”.

Another candidate, Mikhaela Barlow has called for the project to be put on hold and the plans withdrawn, citing design concerns. She has suggested the area be repurposed as an outdoor eating area until funding and appropriate plans are in place.

Current councillor Michael Whelan has staunchly defended the project, describing it as “a victory for vision and persistence”.

Others in the community have said the project should not be a priority in the uncertain economic times.

Bass Coast Shire Council said the construction of the project will provide 69 jobs, with the final building providing the equivalent of 30 full time jobs.

Bass Coast Mayor, Cr Tessari said the delivery of the $19 million project will help to support a “much-needed post COVID-19 economic recovery”.

“Projects like this will help keep local jobs secure and create new and sustainable employment opportunities for the community,” Cr Tessari said.

“Once built, the Centre will bring together the cultural and social aspirations of the community and will draw in visitors to showcase the history and culture of the region. It will also provide an incredible facility for a huge range of community activities and events.”

Earlier this month, Council secured a $2.5 million grant for the project. $10 million has been secured via the state government's Community Infrastructure Loans Scheme and $4 million has been allocated from council reserves to the project.\

Cr Whelan said a further contribution was expected from the state government through the Living Libraries fund. Council said it will continue to explore partnerships with other tiers of government for grant funding.

Draft plans for the new building have been released to the public with the design expected to be finalised by the end of the year.

Construction of the new building is due to start in May 2021 and is expected to take 12-14 months.

Draft plans for the new Cultural Centre are available at www.basscoast.vic.gov.au/cowesccc.