Surprised by interest
Friday, 6th May, 2011
By Gina Wilson
The group running the Centre for Community was surprised that City Council wanted the building after it failed to respond to an offer to take it over about 18 months ago.
At Wednesday night’s monthly City Council meeting, Council resolved to continue talks with Community Inc about the organisation giving the Beryl Street Centre to Council.
But the president of Broken Hill Community Incorporated, John Harris, said that was a surprise to him as between 12 and 18 months ago Community Inc approached Council to see if it wanted to take over the centre.
“They didn’t seem that interested,” Mr Harris said yesterday.
He said the talks stalled from then until recently.
“We got a letter (from Council) about six weeks ago saying we’re interested in the building are you interested in having a discussion?,” Mr Harris said.
“Eighteen months ago that was exactly what we wanted but now there are other dynamics that have changed the playing field.
“We said yes we’re interested but be mindful that we’re talking to a doctor’s surgery.”
Local GP Dr Ramu Nachiappan, in his bid for a Federal Government funded GP Super Clinic, proposed that the Centre for Community be used to house the clinic.
In applying for as much as the $7 million in federal funding, Dr Nachiappan, following a meeting at the Centre to gauge community feeling to the proposal, hinged his application on the site.
Before deciding to support Dr Nachiappan’s proposal, Mr Harris said they considered what the community wanted and what was good for Community Inc.
“After our consultation last year I think there were about 50 people there, 10 from Dr Nachiappan’s surgery all of whom abstained from the vote, 32 voted in favour of it and there were just a small number that voted against it - I think eight,” he said.
“So it was a fairly overwhelming endorsement of it.”
Mr Harris said upkeep on the Centre for Community had started to take its toll on the organisation, which relies on hire fees and markets to cover costs.
“We had to do some repairs about 18 months ago and that really stretched us financially,” he said.
“It’s a bit of a tired building. If you go past there, one of the murals is fretting away.”
He said the building had been valued and, if Dr Nachiappan won the GP Super Clinic funding and it changed hands, there would be a significant windfall for the Centre.
Mr Harris was also surprised that Council wanted the Centre for Community given to it.
“We were pleasantly surprised that they were interested and probably a little bit shocked because they are wanting it gifted,” Mr Harris said.
“Last night was the first time we knew about gifting it back.
“I am happy if that is their starting bid but I would hate it if that was their final bid.”
He said with continued discussions he hoped there could be a resolution good for all people.
“We have entered into a conditional agreement with Ramu and we wouldn’t want to dishonour the spirit ... of that,” Mr Harris said.
“Hopefully we can have a win, win, win solution.”