I’m still stunned. At its December 14 meeting, the majority of the recently elected shire councillors refused to commit $806,150 to allow the next stage of the redevelopment of the Cowes Cultural Centre and Transit Centre to proceed.
This amount would have enabled the preparation of detailed specifications of the design and the opportunity to reapply for Federal funding.
The fact that these were not provided in the first submission for Federal funding for the project was cited as a major reason for its failure.
The council report states:
“Formal feedback from the Federal government indicated our application was strong and of high quality but could be strengthened in a couple of key areas.
“In particular, detailed design documentation is needed to strengthen and improve the council’s chances of receiving funding.
“Detailed design would meet the challenge of demonstrating the projects are ‘shovel ready’. All projects above $2 million that received funding from NSRF have completed detailed design.”
A second application in the next round is obviously now out of the question.
As the report also showed, the application for State Government funding – (1) Regional Development Fund ($4.75 million) and (2) Living Libraries Infrastructure Fund ($.75 million) together with the Bendigo Bank grant of $.25 million are (were) still ‘live’.
The supposed reason for not proceeding with the plans is council’s lack of finances.
But the concept plans have been drawn up and paid for – only to be shelved alongside those produced in the past.
In the meantime, the repairs for the ageing current centre which were placed on hold will now need to be addressed.
How much will they cost?
One councillor’s response to the loss of the motion to proceed with the design was; “That was easy!”
Indeed. Considerably easier than spending hundreds of hours in planning, consultation with stakeholders and the community and writing lengthy funding applications.
I would like to express my thanks and appreciation to the former councillors who attempted to finally get this project off the ground and particularly to council officers David Elder and Robyne Young for their integrity, hard work and commitment to the vision for a marvellous centrepiece and community facility for Phillip Island.
My commiserations go to those community members who have tried so hard so often but to no avail to make this happen.
Dr Marian Quigley, member of the Cowes Cultural & Community Centre Working Group.