Bass Coast Ratepayers and Residents Association (BCRRA) is concerned that council has confirmed demolition of the current Cowes Cultural Centre building will take place in July before new designs are completed.

Also, as the budget process has been put back by two months, the 2020/2021 budget will not be finalised until August, by which time demolition could be complete.

But there are no funds allocated in the current budget or Strategic Resource Plan.

In the worst-case scenario, we could lose the existing building only to find that there are not sufficient funds to replace it!

An architect has not been appointed to finalise new designs, and there has been no community consultation around these.

Demolishing the existing facility before confirming both the support of the community and the availability of funding to complete the project demonstrates undue haste and a lack of respect for the community and their needs.

It is imperative that the new plans are presented to, discussed with, and agreed by the Bass Coast community.

Only then should demolition commence as part of an agreed and contracted project timeline.

This is such a key piece of infrastructure that it must meet the community’s needs functionally, or risk becoming a disappointing ‘white elephant’.

Since the council decided in October 2019 to endorse the demolition option and allocate funding, we are now facing a far more uncertain future with the pandemic.

If government grant funding is unable to be secured, Bass Coast ratepayers will bear the full cost of the $19m rebuild.

As an association, we believe that demolition should not commence until budget allocations are confirmed and community consultation has taken place.

Andrew Marston, committee member – BCRRA.

[READ MORE – Major Cowes project a step closer]