By Michael Giles
THIS now is a ‘sliding doors’ moment in the history of Korumburra and one wonders if the council has the expertise, the focus and the commitment to pull it off.
We’re talking about the plan to revitalise the main shopping centre of Korumburra with a full-service supermarket and the development of a new community hub and library to replace the tired old shire offices and library complex which has long since passed its ‘use by’ date.
These two projects are coming at exactly the right time to continue the forward momentum in the town created by increased housing development, the strength of Burra Foods, the impending arrival of an upgraded water system, the secondary college improvements and the positive approach being taken by the town’s two peak representative bodies – the Korumburra Business Association and the Korumburra Round Table.
These two groups have done an excellent job of improving engagement with the shire and with government, and their diplomacy is paying dividends.
We should congratulate the shire’s administration and to a certain extent, the council, for getting this far with what is a very complex project.
But there’s many a slip twixt cup and lip, as the old proverb says.
While this should clearly be the number one priority of the council at the moment, the one it is directing all of its energies into until it is signed, sealed and delivered; there’s all manner of distractions.
For the past two to three weeks they’ve spent a lot of their time doing the numbers and negotiating over who should be the next mayor, who should get a $75,000 pay day, and who should be allowed to hold the whip hand over the council for the next 12 months.
There’s also the issues of residential development and subdivision in rural areas and calls now for the urgent development of a new Coastal Strategy.
One wonders at the personal interest in both these issues.
There’s also the lingering concerns about the behaviour of some councillors and their attitude to their colleagues.
It’s time to focus ladies and gentlemen.
The supermarket project and replacement of shire facilities has the overwhelming support of the community and could really set Korumburra up for a bright future.
The supermarket is going into the right place but the best site for the community centre is not cut and dried.
The old kinder site is too steep, too small and too costly to develop and should be ruled out immediately.
The railway yards also has major problems, not the least being that it might still be needed for trains one day.
And the old Birralee site is in effect not a real option because it is being sold to provide access to the supermarket. Land for the hub in this vicinity is only available through the compulsory acquisition of three homes.
What the council should do is separate the two issues.
Go ahead and finalise the supermarket project, get fair value for the shire-owned sites it is selling to the developer take a cold shower where the new community hub and library are concerned.
The shire was always planning to build a new community hub and library (forward plan 2024-25) in the town and may only have received peanuts for its King St/Commercial St sites if IGA hadn’t come along.
The council should draw breath, reopen its search for the best site for the community hub and library, and make realistic assessment of what it is going to cost, completely separate from what it will take to clear the way for the supermarket to go ahead.
And the council’s focused attention on this issue until it is resolved would be a plus.