Monday, May 27, 2024

Work set to begin on landmark $6m Balonne building

Work is about to commence on a $6 million library and “hub” complex in the heart of St George.

Balonne Shire Mayor, Samantha O’Toole said the start of construction on the landmark building – that should be completed by November – was an exciting event for the region.

“This new library will include a business and learning hub and provide a wonderful new facility for the people of the Balonne Shire,” Mayor O’Toole said.

“Council is very proud to see this project getting under way.”

Mayor O’Toole said the aim of redeveloping the St George Library – adjacent to the Balonne Shire Council offices in Victoria Street – was to create a vibrant hub, integrating the library and cultural centre and offering a greater breadth of programs and activities.

“This will incorporate contemporary library services, a business and learning hub, the new Country Universities Centre and a cultural centre,” she said.

“The project will also create a vibrant precinct, improving both the functionality of the spaces and creating street appeal in the current central location in Victoria Street.

“Extensive research and consultation has provided valued public and stakeholder input into the development of the design brief behind this new complex.”

Maranoa MP, David Littleproud said the new library hub would raise the bar for the Balonne community in what people can hope to achieve locally, without having to move away.

“I’m a strong believer that regional Australians should have the same educational opportunities as those in the cities – that’s why I’m proud to have secured $5 million in federal funding for the St George Library Hub and Country Universities Centre,” Mr Littleproud said.

“The Country Universities Centre Balonne will give our young and mature-age students – and those looking to build on their skills – a chance to study locally, close to the support of their family and community.

“This is going to change the lives of many people in the bush and, by increasing the number of skilled professionals in the Balonne region, it will pave the way for more business opportunities in the future.”  

Mayor O’Toole said the complex will include:
– a new 650-square-metre library building with a forecourt;
– an integrated green-space park area between the library and cultural centre buildings;  
– a refurbished Cultural Centre façade with a foyer art gallery; and 
– a staged refurbished annexe with meeting areas and equipped with modern technology.

Key features include:
– dedicated space for a business hub and Country Universities Centre with a separate entrance, meeting rooms, hot desks and virtual office;
– business support programs and visiting consultant workspaces;
– spaces for distance education with onsite support and e-programs;
– contemporary library spaces (for workshops, programs, increased resources and digital education);
– an increased library collection (from 8,000 items to 13,500 items, in line with State Library of Queensland per-capita standards;
– a “Maker’s Space” (innovation, creativity, 3D printing, agtech and robotics);
– spaces equipped with technology for virtual learning, training and connection;
– conference and workshop facilities;
– training and workshops via virtual connection;
– a quiet study room and work areas;
– teen and junior feature areas;
– a dedicated area for the celebration of local history and cultural representation; and a mix of meeting rooms and a kitchenette.

“This wonderful new hub will have the effect of shrinking distance and boosting services for students, business operators and the broader Balonne community,” Mayor O’Toole said.

“It will provide resources and services that students and business people might once have had to travel away from the region to find  or simply go without.

“This new complex will help us further reduce the differences between living in regional Queensland versus living in the city.”

The Mayor said fencing has gone up round the site and St George residents could expect to see demolition commence soon.

“That will take about four to five weeks and we will do everything possible to minimise inconvenience to surrounding businesses and in traffic flow during this period.

“We will keep the community informed about progress in construction of the new library-hub complex, including visits to adjacent businesses by Council staff and regular news on the Balonne Shire Council website.”

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