Mulwala’s Lonsdale Reserve Committee has hit back at Federation Council’s action to give the reserve’s Bay 13 another life. The committee wants to see it demolished - in line with the council staff recommendation.
Committee members were unanimous in their recommendation that the building - apparently unused for five years and white-anted - be pulled down.
“The fact that out-of-town councillors voted to keep Bay 13, have they ever seen it?” long standing committee chairman Rod Sissons, asked.
“The Master Plan for Bay 13 was that it was going to stay. But since then the white ants have destroyed the interior, leading to a cost factor if nothing else. There’s the cost of refurbishment versus the cost of demolition. There’s only a limited amount of money.”
Mr Sissons is intrigued at Federation Council’s Mayor Pat Bourke saying he has received a lot of telephone calls wanting the building saved.
“It’s got me beat. I’ve had no calls,” Mr Sissons, a retired project manager with the munitions factory at Mulwala and a former Mulwala and district Citizen of the Year said. “I only know of two people who want to keep Bay 13 as it is. A number of people have said to me ‘what a good idea to pull it down and make something new’.
“The Bob Beams Pavilion (which was on the other side of the football oval) served the community well but we outgrew it and with (the late) Brian McKee the driving force, a magnificent new and larger pavilion was built which has taken over things like celebrations in the old Bay 13.
“Bay 13 served its purpose. It hasn’t been used for about five years. The cricketers don’t need it but need a storage facility which is part of the Bay 13 replacement.”
Spirited debate took place at Federation Council’s January meeting with Cr Paul Miegel backing the value of Lonsdale Reserve Committee and Cr David Longley saying the master plan is a living document which can be changed.
But after debate, councillors decided against the committee’s and staff recommendation, particularly as the current and several years old master plan refers to maintaining the plain cream brick building Bay 13 and because of heritage reasons.
“What heritage reasons?” asked Mr Sissons. “The building is only 20 years old. The main concern of that area and behind Bay 13 looking south is drainage.
“The only successful way is to lift the immediate surrounds so we can get the water to drain back to the street.”
Lonsdale Reserve user groups, Mr Sissons said, voted unanimously to demolish the building. Also on the committee is council’s parks and facilities manager who is also understood to say the biggest issue is drainage.
Immediate past Mulwala Football Netball Club President and Lonsdale Reserve Committee member John Francis said the club’s motto is ‘Respect the past, build the future’. “We need to look to the future,” the Mulwala resident and Berrigan Primary School Principal said.
“As Bay 13 currently stands, it is useless. The information given by council officers is that Lonsdale Reserve would be better served if that building was removed, drainage was undertaken and new storage, kitchen and toilet facilities were constructed.”
Mr Francis said he could understand someone’s point of view that Bay 13 should be considered for retention with money poured into it 20 years ago.
“But whilst there have been many joyous occasions inside that building, there would have been a limit on the cost of the building and its condition has been deemed unsafe by council staff,” he said.
“It hasn’t been cared for and the large incidence of white ants is obvious. Council’s engineering staff are saying it’s unsafe.”
Steel beams are still amongst the material inside Bay 13. The building, however, has been allowed to be run down and is obviously unused.
Federation Council’s resolution also includes “engaging with the Lonsdale Reserve Committee and wider community to update the master plan”.
After being approached, The Yarrawonga Chronicle has afforded the Lonsdale Reserve Committee the opportunity to respond to Federation Council’s resolution by its councillors. Now it’s up to initial high level talks and inspections between the two parties.