Old fire station is Wonthaggi’s disgrace
By Mitch Guy
THE old Wonthaggi Fire Station is an absolute mess. It’s been empty for three years and vandals have thoughtlessly destroyed its interior.
Since the Wonthaggi CFA moved to a new state of the art station on White Road in early 2014, the old building has been left empty, with local community groups showing interest in taking over the building.
The building has been hit by vandals with graffiti, smashed windows and walls and large parts of the ceiling destroyed in the back room.
There’s evidence to suggest that people have lived in the building at times and there has been further graffiti and damage in recent weeks.
Local firefighters are also concerned that it’s only a matter of time before there’s a fire at the building.
Owned by the Bass Coast Shire Council, the building is still in a repairable state and the Wonthaggi Boxing Club is very keen to move into the building as soon as possible, with an uncertain future at its current site at the Miner’s Rest Hotel.
Wonthaggi Boxing Club coach Scott Williamson has been scoping the old CFA building, hoping that his club could move in.
“I was thinking ‘How good would this joint be?’” he said.
“As I’ve kept coming back to have a look I’m like, ‘Oh my god, have a look at it now; it just gets worse and worse’. Spray painting is the latest thing I’ve noticed.
“At the end of the day, though, this is nothing. We can get all the rubbish in a skip bin and rip all the plaster off the walls.
“I’ve got a lot of tradie mates who have said they will help us out, there’s a plasterer, roofer – they’ll do it all.”
The boxing club has a vision to install a full-sized boxing ring in the front area of the old CFA building, utilise the side area for punching bags and speed balls and the back room could potentially be a shared space for aerobics, pilates or other activities.
There’s also plenty of room for expansion, with potential for the back shed and room to be used by masseuses or physiotherapists.
The boxing club has presented a proposal to the Bass Coast Shire Council, which requests at least a 10-year lease with free or minimal rent and only asks the council to have any asbestos removed from the building.
Bass Coast Shire Council Deputy Mayor Cr Brett Tessari said the council is working through multiple scenarios for the use of the old CFA building.
“We became aware of condition of it several months ago, which is very, very disappointing,” he said.
“We have been approached by several groups to see if they can use it. At the moment we have a long-term vision for it that we are trying to work on, which ties in with the new education precinct at McKenzie Street.
“Missing out on the new school in this year’s budget has slowed us down on acting on the CFA building, because it does tie in with the whole project.
“We have massive plans for the old school and we hope the CFA building will tie in with that.
“We are still in communication with a couple of groups with the possibility of using the building in the short term, while we continue to work our way through different scenarios.
“The CFA building is just one of many issues that we’ve been working through in our first eight months in council.”
Cr Tessari said he believed the council will work to secure the building so no further damage can be done.
“I’ve spoken with CEO Paul Buckley, so I’m hoping he’s going to chase that up and have it secured,” he said.
“We don’t want anyone to walk into any buildings, let alone any building of ours.”