Council, RSL sign off on plan to swap land
LEONGATHA is closer to receiving a new look entertainment precinct and council offices after a groundbreaking decision by South Gippsland Shire Council last Wednesday.
Council unanimously voted to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Returned and Services League of Australia (Victoria branch) to start investigating a land swap.
The arrangement would see council buy the existing Leongatha RSL venue in Michael Place in return for it selling its Carino’s office complex at 6-12 Smith Street to the Leongatha RSL Sub-branch.
The RSL proposes to build a multi-level complex of cafes, bistro, gaming room, indoor and outdoor bars, function rooms and on-site parking with the prospect for accommodation, on the site of Carino’s, the old veterans welfare centre and the former kindergarten in Michael Place.
Acquiring the current RSL site could enable council to expand its current offices or redevelop the entire site to include a state of the art civic centre.
Cr Aaron Brown said, “This is probably a once in a generation opportunity to do a project of this scale. There is not really anything in South Gippsland of this magnitude.”
Deputy mayor Cr Maxine Kiel said the “fantastic project” “opens up huge opportunities for both associations”.
Cr Andrew McEwen said the move “could lead to the revitalisation of Leongatha”.
“With a hotel there, it could lead to $5000 to $10,000 being spent on discretionary services in Leongatha each day,” he said.
“It provides council with a way of looking at a community hub in the RSL building, saving council dollars, which could be of net benefit to the community and the ratepayers.”
Cr Don Hill said the proposal was a “win, win for both sides”.
Leongatha RSL Sub-branch president Steve Wisdom was delighted with the progression of plans.
“It’s just fantastic. We’re very happy about it. We have a lot of feasibility studies to do and that is the first hurdle. We think it will be sensational for the town,” he said.
Representatives of council and the RSL discussed the proposal earlier this year.
The RSL believes the new complex would secure its long term sustainability and offer function facilities Leongatha needs.
The RSL has received greater demand for functions of up 350 people for conferences, debutante balls, large weddings, musical entertainment and shows, but has been unable to cater for such crowds at its existing venue.
Council will consider a further report on the proposal once investigations are completed.
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