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Community has best ideas: Councillor

Wednesday, 28th February, 2018

Tom Kennedy Tom Kennedy

By Emily Roberts

The best ideas for the BHP funding will come from the community, according to a city Councillor.

At tonight’s Council meeting, councillors will vote to change plans to move the archives from the library to the council’s administration building.

BHP had allocated $3.4 million to the archives project, as part of a $5.7 million gift to help the city celebrate its heritage listing.

They also funded ‘parklets’ at various intersections through the CBD of Broken Hill.

Councillor Tom Kennedy said yesterday that while it was positive Council were changing their mind, backflips on those projects was “embarrassing”.

“As far as the parklets were concerned, it was not the best way to spend the money that BHP kindly donated,” Clr Kennedy said.

“The plan was poorly thought out and would not have done justice to the money that we were given,” he said.

“It’s embarrassing that Council have had to go back on its decision as the plans would have been something they would have spent a lot of money on.

“To change this decision and take it before the councillors would have been hard; to say ‘this is not going to work’.

“But this has the potential to save Council and the community hundreds of thousands a year.”

Clr Kennedy said the best ideas were in the minds of residents.

“Often the best ideas come from the community,” he said.

“Businesses will often do a lot of marketing to see what their customer base wants. 

“All smart businesses find out what is wanted.

“If Council do that, the community will come up with ideas that are driven by the community rather than a consultant or manager who is not from here.

“It will create better ideas and the service will be used by the people who live here.

“With the parklets, Council could have continued to pursue the project - knowing that the community didn’t want them.

“They would have spent the money and then they wouldn’t have worked or been well supported.

“They may have been removed in the long run.

“It’s taken a lot for council management to stop that and say they made a mistake.”

There were strict guidelines that Council had to follow regarding the BHP funding and they will have to remain in constant consultation with mining giant on the issue.

The BHP Billiton Foundation (BHPBF) is willing to consider a request from Council to change the project scope, placing the archives in the centre of a “cultural precinct”, rather than at the Council Administrative building, it states in a Council report.

Discussions of how the mineral art intersections fit in the Cultural Precinct have also been positive and there is a strong indication that the funding could be re-allocated to the construction budget for the proposed new facility.

Clr Kennedy said locals often approach him with ideas.

“I get people coming up to me with ideas all the time, the potential for the library to have a museum or to use the facade of the old fire station for something.

“I’ve been told that the bricks are still there from the old fire station - I don’t know how accurate that is.

“But there is also the potential to move the Visitor’s Information Centre or GeoCentre to the library.

“People have suggested adding an interactive art gallery for visitors to see artists working.

“There are plenty of ideas already.

“People have also suggested a raised library with parking underneath and having the opportunity to incorporate the public toilets into the library development - so it’s not a stand along project.

“I really like all of the ideas, it’s just a matter of having a conversation.”

Regular ongoing dialogue occurs with the BHPBF through their contribution of $5.7m of funding to pursue two Council supported projects - the digitisation of the archives along with their relocation and the construction of mineral and art intersections to interpret the mineralogical rainforest of the city.

The current agreement between the BHPBF and Council provides for a change of project scope on request from the Council and would be subject to the deliberations of the BHPBF’s Board.

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