Thursday, April 25, 2024

Baw Baw to seek $20m funding for community precinct

Baw Baw Shire Council will pursue State and Federal Government support for the development of a landmark multi-use community precinct including a state-of-the-art library, community hub, cultural space and plaza in the heart of Warragul.

The $30 million project is Phase 1 of the Baw Baw Civic Precinct Masterplan adopted by Council earlier this year.

Its purpose is to address growing community infrastructure needs in the face of Baw Baw Shire’s rapidly rising population, said Mayor Danny Goss.

Among the issues it will address are a badly needed replacement for Warragul’s aging and undersized library, the provision of community meeting and co-working spaces, and better connected and more accessible public amenities, he said.

“This is a multi-generational project. It’s not just needed for today. This is for our grandchildren’s grandchildren,” said Mayor Goss.

“We’ve watched neighbouring Councils with smaller populations receive funding for projects like this one. It’s our turn. This is badly needed infrastructure. It’s not fair that in such a large council, the fastest growing Council outside of Melbourne, that we continue to miss out.

“As a Council we’re making the investment. We’re committing $10 million to this project for the benefit of the entire region. It’s time the State and Federal governments did the same. We are vigorously advocating for this much needed infrastructure for our community.

“We’re asking the State and Federal Governments to step up to the plate and back this project. This community needs it and this community deserves it. As a Council, we are committed to making it happen,” he said.

The project’s full scope includes:

  • Underground parking;
  • A community library, including a children’s library, maker’s space, video gaming, reading, collection and study areas;
  • A gallery and cultural space;
  • Community meeting rooms;
  • Consulting rooms;
  • A café;
  • Plaza and pedestrian connection to the West Gippsland Arts Centre;
  • Co-working spaces;
  • A rooftop garden;
  • Public amenities such as parent’s room and Changing Places facility.

Council has pledged a $10 million investment towards the project, $5 million of which has already been allocated in Council’s Long Term Infrastructure Plan.

“This is a vitally important project for the entirety of Baw Baw Shire and a key advocacy priority for this Council. We badly need more social and community infrastructure, but we can’t go it alone without State and Federal Government backing,” said Councillor Michael Leaney.

“Economically, this project will have a multiplier effect, bringing more economic activity into the region while also creating an estimated 90 jobs during the construction phase. We need to act now while funding is available and while borrowing conditions are favourable.

“Baw Baw is the fastest growing non-metro region in the state. And we need to be building now to cater to growing needs.”

Council says it will now turn its full advocacy efforts towards securing $10 million contributions from both the State and Federal Governments to deliver this vital and regionally significant community infrastructure.

If the funding arrangements can be secured, Council plans to develop full designs with community input this financial year. Procurement and project commencement will then progress in the 2022-23 financial year, with 2024-25 the aimed-for completion date.

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