Coastal hub takes shape
THE Sandy Point community could have a new hall by May.
Construction of the $1.6 million Sandy Point Community Centre is expected to be finished then, heralding the end to a campaign that began in 2000.
The new centre will feature a main hall, meeting rooms, an office/consulting room, kitchen and great outdoor deck, and will improve the social, recreational, cultural and civic activities available for residents and visitors.
The centre will feature a modern design that will complement the coastal surrounds.
T.P. Taylor Reserve Committee of Management spokesperson Diane Casbolt said the centre would enhance the sense of community.
“We will have a community centre that will start to provide a lot more activities,” she said.
Dancing lessons, University of the Third Age activities, child minding and bowls will be among the activities offered.
The consulting rooms will allow doctors and other health professionals to visit, enabling residents to stay in their homes for longer.
The centre could also serve as a place of last resort in the event of a bushfire and as such, the Country Fire Authority will pay for minor upgrades to improve the centre’s safety, including bollards, vegetation changes and flyscreens.
“The main space in the community centre will be about twice as big as the old hall,” Ms Casbolt said.
Council’s engineering manager Tony Price said the centre would provide the community with a “fantastic new facility”.
The structure and roof are complete, and cladding of the building exterior is underway.
“This is one of the largest Commonwealth funded projects to occur in South Gippsland and is an outstanding example of a determined local community willing to work in partnership with council, and State and Federal governments to achieve their goals,” Mr Price said.
“The Sandy Point community really is to be congratulated for their tenacity and teamwork.”
The Federal Government contributed $1.295 million, South Gippsland Shire Council $150,000 and the rest will come from the community.
The campaign since 2000 has been long and one of persistence, Ms Casbolt said.
“It’s been a struggle because it’s a seaside town with a transient population. It was hard for towns like Sandy Point to tick the right boxes set by the government to qualify for funds,” she said.
“It was a matter of lobbying the government to bend the boxes.”
The community raised $16,000 in the first year alone through fundraising efforts and now has accumulated $150,000, with just another $10,000 to go. Raffles, trivia nights, bush dances and markets have added to the tally.
When the Federal Government announced its national building stimulus package during the economic downturn some years ago, the Sandy Point Community Centre was a ‘shovel ready project’.
Mr Price said the old hall no longer met the community’s needs.
“Community consultation had identified issues that needed to be addressed and for which a better facility was required: social isolation, internet access, aged, youth and childcare, life-long learning, visiting health professionals, environmental issues and provision of tourism information,” he said.
Although about 20 per cent of Sandy Point’s houses are occupied permanently, the town is growing and diversifying, with many young families and retirees.
With up to 7000 visitors in summer, the community believes the centre will be widely used.
The existing hall was a maintenance shed at the former Yallourn power station in the 1960s and will be demolished.
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