July 7, 2017
The future of Blackbutt Memorial Hall’s $500,000 car park and landscaping has been thrown into doubt after the South Burnett Regional Council failed to get a matching contribution from the State Government.
In March, the Council lodged an application with the Building Our Regions (BOR) fund to pay for half the cost.
But this week, when successful BOR Round 3 grant applications were announced, the Hall project was not among them.
The Hall has been moved from its original location in Coulson Street to a new site off Bowman Road to make way for a supermarket.
At the Council’s March meeting, Cr Ros Heit said she had “an issue” with a cost of $500,000-plus to set up footpaths, a 22-bay car park and landscaping for the Hall.
Cr Heit said she supported a supermarket development in Blackbutt, and thought the Hall’s new location was a good one.
She said having the developer upgrade the Hall to comply with current standards as part of the relocation project was a good thing, too.
But paying $500,000 to put in a sealed car park, footpaths and landscaping was not.
“Firstly, Blackbutt residents were told there would be no or a very minimal cost to ratepayers to relocate the Hall,” Cr Heit said in March.
“$500,000-plus is a lot of money, and I think we are betraying not only Blackbutt’s residents but all South Burnett residents if we spend this sort of money on unnecessary infrastructure.
“There are nearly 20 halls in the South Burnett, most of which don’t have disability access toilets, are old and desperately in need of maintenance, and certainly don’t have a bitumen line-marked car park.
“Secondly, the hall is a valuable community asset that is used for big functions once or twice a year, and smaller functions every couple of months, and I don’t believe this level of usage justifies the need for a bitumen carpark.
“Council assesses the need to seal roads on the basis of traffic counts, and I think the traffic count for this road would be less than one a day.
“If we have a spare $500,000 there are plenty of dangerous roads that could be improved with that sort of money which would get a lot more traffic.”
Cr Heit then went on to give grudging support to a motion to apply for co-funding from BOR, saying a 50 per cent subsidy made the redevelopment a more attractive proposition.
But she warned that if the application were unsuccessful, making the entire $500,000 outlay from Council’s funds would be “a betrayal of our obligation to deliver prudent financial management”.