MidCoast Council funds long-awaited community centre

Hawks Nest Community Centre, part of it a demountable, has been waiting for five years to be upgraded.

REFURBISHMENT work will begin in the next two weeks at Hawks Nest Community Centre on Booner Street.

MidCoast Council on June 28 voted to release money for the upgrade from its ‘developer contributions’ funds.

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“This project was originally funded by a $300,000 community development grant, however, due to an increase in construction costs since the grant was awarded, further funds are required to progress,” MCC’s media team told News Of The Area.

The Hawks Nest Tea Gardens Progress Association, which calls the centre home, welcomed council’s move, but said the wait had been five years.

“We are happy to see the community centre will finally be completed, but are concerned about the cost increase and considerable delay, which was not caused by the community,” HNTGPA President Bruce Murray told NOTA.

The extra funds have been extracted from the Tea Gardens ‘district section 94 contributions plan’.

Council said, “the required balance of funds will be provided from the community facilities section of the plan and the open space section of the plan”.

Money drawn from the ‘open space’ section of the plan would be “repaid in future years, when developer contributions are received”.

Mr Murray said the progress association was concerned that given that the costs had already risen of their own accord, there was nothing to prevent greater blowouts in the future.

And that, he said, could put more pressure on an already-stretched budget, meaning projects dependent on ‘the plan’ for funding could miss out.

“The progress association has concerns about how the ‘section 94 developer contributions plan’ does not appear to have translated into action in a timely manner, and will continue to lobby council officers for improved transparency and accountability,” Mr Murray said

A council media spokesperson told NOTA on 13 July that contracts for work at the community centre were expected to be exchanged soon, with work expected to begin in a fortnight, weather permitting.

By Thomas O’KEEFE

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