The Inverloch Tourism Association (ITA) would like to clarify some of the reported statements made by Lions President Mr Gary McAinch in the South Gippsland Sentinel-Times, February 11.
The ITA has maintained accurate records of all correspondence to Inverloch and District Lions Club (Lions) and Bass Coast Shire (Land Managers) which includes minutes of meetings as provided by Lions. These minutes record that the ITA were not present at two meetings during 2016 and one early 2017 in “the beginning” or at “the early days” of the project which was then still very much in concept discussion stages.
Lions promoted the project in funding applications and surveys as “A joint project by Lions Club of Inverloch, Rotary Club of Inverloch and Tourism Association of Inverloch”.
The ITA and Rotary were nominated as members of the Sound Shell Working Group (Working Group) representing broader community interests. This reflected Council’s resolution of July 19, 2017, that Council “Agree to proceed with Community Led project to construct a Sound Shell in The Glade, Inverloch”.
Rotary and the ITA supported the project in promoting Council’s 2017 online survey and handed out surveys to the public to assess the level of community support to build [a] sound shell in The Glade, Inverloch.
The surveys clearly stated “proposed location concept design only”.
With the objective of working collaboratively with Lions, The Working Group made repeated attempts to communicate with Lions, formally raising concerns that the Working Group was being excluded from the decision making process.
Key issues that were raised included ensuring that the chosen Sound Shell design had legitimate community support and growing concerns of lack of transparency.
This is a far cry from Mr McAinch’s reported comments that the groups had been given the opportunity to contribute to the project from its earliest stages [but simply] “weren’t at the table when the decisions were being made”.
In actual fact, soon after Lions received confirmation of being successful in obtaining $200,000 from Pick My Project, along with $150,000 of public money from Bass Coast Shire, the Working Group received notice that Lions resolved that “Lions Club to proceed as a sole entity for delivering the project, with the intent being there is no further input into the design from the other two key stakeholder groups”.
In reference to Mr McAinch’s statement that “they have not contributed in any way financially, so that left us no alternative but to build the one we had”, the ITA and Rotary informed Lions that both groups were prepared to financially support the project.
However, they were only prepared to do so if the final design had “A strong sense of place, was sympathetic with its environment and had legitimate community support”.
In May 2019, after being formally excluded from the project by the Project Lead Agent, the Working Group developed an alternate design with the assistance from Two Two Design/Inverloch Engineering, Peter Jackson, local sculptors, local musicians, local and Melbourne based sound engineers which reflected a strong sense of place and was sympathetic with its environment.
The design incorporated features such as roof tiles similar to those used in the Sydney Opera House, marine ply acoustic ceiling panels, graffiti proofed curved rammed earth wall with an impression of eagles nest, aged timber wall sections and two curved all ability access ramps.
The alternate design option and design story board was hand-delivered to Lions President/Sound Shell Committee Chairman Mr Gary McAnich and Lions Secretary in late October 2019 accompanied with a quote from Two Two Design/Inverloch Engineering for $433,282 to construct the Sound Shell. This quote was inflated by some $1.7m by Mr McAinch when he reportedly put the figure at an “estimated 2.1m”.
The quote included a full construction schedule to potentially start in February 2020, to meet Pick My Project guidelines given community acceptance, Council and DELWP approval.
With a contemporary alternate design at hand, along with Lions prosed Traralgon based design, the Working Group had hoped that Lions, as Lead Agent of ‘A Community Led’ project, would provide the community the opportunity for further comment. Sadly no consultation has occurred since the April 2017 online survey.
It now seems that a concrete, corrugated iron sound shelter designed in the late 1990s for Traralgon will remain as a legacy to our children and a monolith for Bass Coast Shire to maintain as a piece of very prominent public infrastructure. Sadly, a great opportunity lost!
Gary Tayler, Inverloch Tourism Association.