IT’S the right site and will revitalise the town centre.
That’s the reaction of the Korumburra Business Association to the decision to build the Korumburra Community Hub in Victoria Street on the former kindergarten site.
South Gippsland Shire Council last week voted to abandon the former railway yards site and locate the hub at 4 Victoria Street, Korumburra.
Council hopes to start site works in spring next year with the building works completed 12 months later.
KBA president Noelene Cosson said the group originally supported the railway yards and thought the old kindergarten site was the worst option but had now reversed its opinion.
“The location sounds like the worst one but when you see how it can actually connect to the main street it is quite impressive,” Ms Cosson said.
“Everyone thinks it’s quite a steep site, but it actually comes through quite level from the post office car park and the newsagents, back to the hub.”
Ms Cosson said the site had good roadways around it and would make an attractive area with its northerly aspect.
“At the moment it’s a backyard carpark but it will be more landscaped.
“If you’re parked at the post office, you will feel like walking through to the library and not feel like it’s a long way.”
Ms Cosson said the proposed railway yards site hadn’t worked out and it was time to move on to the next option.
“We’re excited that it’s going to enhance the shopping strip, the retail area and help revitalise the town centre,” she said.
The Korumburra Community Hub was one of five priority projects adopted by council on Wednesday which will be targeted for state and federal government funding.
Administrator Rick Brown said only two thirds of the shire’s underlying income came from rates.
“Consequently, very few major projects in South Gippsland Shire happen without the support of state or federal governments,” Administrator Brown said.
“South Gippsland Shire Council has a strong track record lobbying for its priority projects. Supporting the Korumburra Hub is a step towards giving our major towns a boost.”
However, council’s acting director infrastructure Tony Peterson said most of the $5.2 million budget for the community hub would be funded by council.
Council has applied for a grant of $750,000 from the 2019 Living Libraries Infrastructure Program towards the library component of the community hub.
As well as endorsing the former kindergarten site, the council administrators voted to finalise the master plan for the Korumburra railway station site that does not include the hub but does accommodate the Great Southern Rail Trail Extension project.
The administrators also authorised a contract variation of almost $140,000 for previously appointed architects Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp and agreed to “continue to advocate to Vic Track to restore the Korumburra railway station building due to its historical significance”.
A council spokesperson said most of the work done by the consultants to date was not site-dependent and could be used for the new site.
The Korumburra Community Hub will bring a range of local services under one roof, including the library, Milpara Community House, senior citizens club, multipurpose meeting spaces and a commercial kitchen, as well as providing display spaces for the historical society and Rotary Club art show.
The long-running saga dates back to the 2013 Korumburra Town Centre Framework Plan which identified the former kindergarten site as the preferred location for the facility.
A 2017 council discussion paper on location options noted construction costs would increase by about 20 per cent if land slope required a two-storey construction.
The latest site option report presented to last week’s council meeting notes a 10 metre fall across the site and includes “indicative footprints” for both single and double storey facilities.
Mr Peterson said “without any concept plans, we do not have a preference” for single or double storey.
“The preference will be for the option which delivers the best result for the community,” Mr Peterson said.
In naming the Korumburra Railway Yards as its preferred site for the hub in December 2017, council noted the location was “flat which means that there will be plenty of space for car parking and for any future building extensions if required”.
Council awarded a contract for the site masterplan at the railway yards to architects Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp in October last year and as recently as July this year, acting chief executive Brian Sword told the Korumburra Business Association the “railway precinct remained the preferred site” and there had been “extremely strong consultation” and “robust conversations” with all community groups who would be moving there.
However, last month the council signed a lease with Vic Track to secure the use of the rail corridor from Leongatha to Nyora for 18 years and grant funding of $1.5 million earmarked for the restoration of the Korumburra railway station building under Vic Track’s Community Use of Vacant Rail Buildings Program was withdrawn, making the site unviable for development as the community hub.