May 19, 2017
A plan to relocate Nanango’s former railway station building back to its original home in Pioneer Park is in limbo.
The Nanango Tourism and Development Association (NaTDA) says the South Burnett Regional Council’s unwillingness to assist the project may force them to abandon the idea.
If so, the building will remain at the Lee Park Race Course where the public will only be able to view it on six race days each year.
NaTDA hatched the plan to relocate the building onto the old railway station platform in Pioneer Park last September.
The Nanango Race Club had purchased the building from the former Nanango Shire Council after the line was closed, and once used it as an office and jockey’s change room at the race track.
But the construction of the race club’s current facilities in the mid-1980s rendered it surplus to requirements, and it had been used as an occasional store room ever since.
In September the race club told NaTDA it had no objection to their plan to shift the building back to Pioneer Park, restump it, restore it back to its original condition and convert it into a railway history museum.
The South Burnett Regional Council also indicated at the time that it approved the project in principle.
So over the past nine months NaTDA has spent $5000 on surveys, engineering plans and Council building fees to move the project forwards, as well as obtaining quotes for shifting the building and installing services like power and water.
Everything went off the rails last month, though, when Council officers told the group if the building was turned into a museum, they would be required to build a car park for it and install a disabled toilet.
The Council also indicated it did not want to add the 106 year old building to its asset register, which would mean NaTDA would need to pay ongoing costs for insurance and maintenance, and possibly rates as well.
NaTDA had been prepared to move the building at no cost to either the Race Club or Council, then seek grants to bring it up to contemporary standards, in order to create a Rail Trail feature for the town.
While Nanango does not directly benefit from either the Brisbane Valley Heritage Trail or the soon to be completed South Burnett Rail Trail, NaTDA believed the rise of rail trail tourism – as well as positive local sentiment for the project – would give the town a foothold in the market.
However the additional costs of a car park and disabled toilet, as well as ongoing outlays for insurance, maintenance and rates, made the project untenable.
At Thursday night’s monthly meeting, NaTDA president Gloria Kirkness said a subsequent meeting with Council officers had improved the situation slightly, though still not enough to warrant proceeding any further.
She told members if the group threw over its original idea of putting a railway museum in the building and instead mounted historical photos and text under plexiglas on its walls, the requirements for a car park and a disabled toilet wouldn’t be tripped.
But the group would still be liable for $2000 to $3000 in costs each year.
Worse, if NaTDA ceased to function, the Council could instruct them to remove the building if it wished.
The group now plans to call a last ditch joint meeting between NaTDA, Nanango Race Club officials and local councillors to see if a solution can be worked out.