Library to move
Friday, 8th April, 2016
By Erica Visser
The city’s library is set to double in size after councillors last night voted to move it to an Argent Street location.
A motion to relocate the service was unanimously passed despite backlash that saw more than half of the public submissions received by Council come out against the bold cost-saving plan.
The city’s archives would meanwhile be relocated to the basement of Council’s Blende Street administration centre as part of an upgrade using an undisclosed portion of the $5.7 million donated by BHP Biliton.
It will now be up to Council’s newly-appointed general manager, James Roncon, to head negotiations for possible long-term lease arrangements.
While the potential sites for the library remained a secret, it was understood Council was eyeing off the former Pellew and Moore department store at the heart of Argent Street.
“There has been a couple of buildings that have gone through this process but quite obviously there is a preferred one, but at this point we’re still negotiating with the landlord,” Mayor Wincen Cuy told local media last night.
“Until that is undertaken we need to keep that as confidential.”
With no timeframe put on the negotiations, Mayor Cuy predicted it would be at least six months before relocation efforts began.
The costings for the move were yet to be released however these would be included within Council’s upcoming budget, which would be reviewed next week.
The relocation was expected to save Council $1.4 million over a 10-year period; a figure that was largely put down to depreciation and exorbitant repair and maintenance costs at the current building.
Mayor Cuy urged residents to recognise the move as a positive for the city.
“We’re actually going to double the size of the library. That has to be a good thing.”
However he acknowledged some legitimate concerns had been raised over the proposal, which was generated by Council’s CBD design plan constructed by a Sydney-based consultant.
“I know the first thing people are going to talk about is the parking issue,” he said.
“At least now, we can have the opportunity to review what we need to put a strategy moving forward.”
The mayor also believed a local culture of change resistance had contributed to the negative sentiment surrounding the proposal.
“There are a lot of people out there that didn’t want the library moved, there are a lot of people out there that didn’t want Shorty O’Neil Village moved,” he said.
“I think there is a lot of change resistance in the community but...every day we’re changing, 140 jobs were lost two weeks ago. That is a significant change in this community.
“Who’s to say in another six months there is not more losses. So this community needs to make changes and saving 1.4 million over a 10 year period for Council, they’re the types of things we need to do to make sure we can be right for the future.”