A COMPLICATED and lengthy project, to build a new childcare centre, community hub and kindergarten, is nearing completion.
The Karmai Community Children’s Centre in Mair Crescent, Korumburra, is on track and on budget, ready to open in early 2017.
On Wednesday morning, South Gippsland Shire councillors and shire staff involved in the project were given a walk-through the facility and were mightily impressed with the project’s progress.
Construction began on November 20, 2015 and the centre is running to schedule with works by TS Constructions to be finalised in December 2016 and operational by early 2017 – opening for 120 children.
The centre will provide 120 places for childcare, kindergarten, out of school hours care, maternal and childhood services and specialist services for current and future needs.
It co-locates existing services, providing families with access to a full range of children’s and maternal services in one location, including nurse and immunisation clinics, mothers’ clubs and linking into early childhood learning, effectively developing an immediate community for families.
At the time when council announced it would donate the land, allocate $2.05 million and advocate for Federal and State Government, which was ultimately successful ($1.6 million each), there were concerns in the community that the site was inappropriate.
But as projects coordinator at South Gippsland Shire Council Tony Peterson said, construction had overcome some hurdles to provide the best benefit to the region’s children.
He said the site was over three blocks of land, three road reserves and three planning zones – that’s without further complications of the significant slope and old railway sidings.
“It easily meets the new childcare requirements,” he said.
“But another requirement we had was that it needed to meet sustainability targets and it also needed to be a place families wanted to be.”
The building is fitted with 10kW solar panels to be self-sufficient during the day, water is captured and reused on site, there is cross-flow ventilation, high south-facing windows to let in light but keep out heat, a verandah to allow play areas during winter and high-grade acoustic insulation.
The council also upgraded Little Princes Street to link the centre in with Korumburra Primary School, creating an education precinct.
“TS Constructions has made a complex build a simple process,” Mr Peterson said.
Council CEO Tim Tamlin joined in the praise, heaping the most on the Korumburra Kindergarten and Birralee Childcare Centre (now amalgamated into the Karmai Children’s Centre Board).
“I had just arrived at South Gippsland and the children’s centre called up in the first week demanding a meeting,” he said.
“I thought, ‘oh here we go, everyone’s got these grand plans and want it now’, but they opened with ‘we’ve got this money [$100,000] now help us build it!’
“So we took the mayor, Cr Jeanette Harding at the time, and Rebecca Marriott and I’ve got to say it was the easiest ‘ask’ [for funding] I’ve ever done.
“We went to the Federal Government for the big ask and Rebecca was brilliant – I just stepped back and let her do her thing, she convinced everyone!”