Federation Council has overwhelmingly supported retention of Lonsdale Reserve Mulwala’s 20-year-old Bay 13 building, after demolition of the building was unanimously recommended by the reserve committee of management.
The Lonsdale Reserve Committee meeting of December 4 was attended by representatives from the football, cricket, tennis and netball committees, and Federation Council’s parks and facilities manager.
The resolution at the committee meeting was for Bay 13 to be taken down and replaced with recommended structures of public use toilet and storage facility with kitchenette, with earthworks for improved drainage of Lonsdale Reserve to proceed.
Observer at the December 4 meeting, Mulwala Progress Association President Robert Purtle OAM, wanted his opposition to the demolition recommendation noted.
After much spirited debate at council’s monthly meeting on January 23, councillors voted unanimously to refuse the council officer’s recommended development application which had been endorsed by council’s Director Infrastructure and Environment Peter Gall.
The motion put by Crs Bronwyn Thomas and David Longley, also included the reasoning behind the development application refusal: preserved the heritage aspects of Bay 13, not considered in public interest and not consistent with the currently approved Lonsdale Reserve Master Plan.
Council’s resolution also included council engaging with the Lonsdale Reserve Committee of Management and wider community to update the master plan.
Initially, a motion was put at last week’s council meeting, by Cr Paul Miegel, seconded by Cr Longley, to demolish and replace Bay 13.
But Cr Thomas displayed the 2013 Lonsdale Reserve Master Plan which referred to maintaining Bay 13. Cr Longley said Howlong has the use of its Lowe Square Master Plan which is “a living document that changes from time to time and is working well”.
Cr Shaun Whitechurch said he’d spoken to different stakeholders, referred to council’s September 2017 option to make good of Bay 13 and to the December 4 meeting where three stakeholders agreed the building should be demolished.
“I’m not sure if the right picture is coming across. One thought is it’s $150,000 to fix up the building and it seems now we’ve got $400,000. Is the truth being told?”
“This issue has been around for quite a long time. We’ve gone through the process. It has been investigated. The building is structurally unsound,” Mr Gall responded.
“The $400,000 is not for a single facility but a range of new things. To replace Bay 13 without financial grants - we can’t afford. This whole matter has gone through a fairly robust process.”
Cr Miegel said democracy is beautiful and that everyone gets to have a say. Then unloaded. “We have a committee at Lonsdale Reserve...this (topic) has been backwards and forwards, (demolition) has been supported by the committee.
“If we’re not going to support the committee, why have a committee in the first place? Support the committee’s recommendation.” Cr Longley agreed, adding he’d be totally against council continuing to override us (Howlong committee).”
Cr Fred Longmire said he was against the idea of Bay 13 going. “It’s been down there a long time,” he said.
“It’s a great area down there,” Cr Norm Wales said. “History’s very important. There have been many celebrations in Bay 13 and I think it should be given a life line.”
Mayor Pat Bourke said he has received a lot of telephone calls to save Bay 13.
Cr Miegel said the critical issue is that Bay 13 is not structurally sound. “We, as a council, cannot prop up a building that is not structurally sound,” he said. “The safety aspect is far more important.”
Cr Whitechurch said he totally supports Cr Miegel’s stance that he cannot support a structurally unsound facility. “But there’s no engineering report about the structure of the building,” he said.
“We have Cr Andrew Kennedy (who had vacated the chamber as he declared a pecuniary interest) as one builder who has quoted to repair the building (The Chronicle understands quotes by Mr Kennedy relate to pulling the building down and constructing a new building, and also separately to fixing up the existing building). There is a live tender from Richies for $155,000 to repair the building.”
All councillors considered the master plan’s current wording and the tenders received to have a proper Bay 13 particularly sufficient reasoning to vote in favour of the motion to further review the situation.