Yass Valley Council’s recent resolutions progressing a new Civic Precinct project have been met with mixed reviews from residents.
The project, planned to be constructed at 209 Comur Street, was endorsed at a council meeting on the 24th of February and has been designed to hold a new library, community meeting rooms, office accommodation, eCommerce small business centre, short term accommodation and long-term tenants in what a council media release described as “a key future infrastructure project for the community”.
However, the community’s response has included stark opposition with some, including Yass resident Touie Smith Snr, who in a letter to the editor in last week’s edition of the Yass Valley Times, implored the council to reconsider their decision.
“[I] strongly suggest to the current Council to put a hold on building the Taj Mahal… and not burden the next Councillors with 11th-hour spending commitments,” he said.
Another Yass resident, Rebecca Murray, also questioned why it appears the Civic project has been prioritised over other important community projects.
“Do they really need all of this? Why doesn’t council do something about the hot playgrounds and put shade shelter for the children?” said Murray.
Whilst both hold valid concerns, the main source of contention remains that whilst plans for the Civic Precinct appear to be very much in the works, there is yet to be any public sighting of progress for a new water treatment plant as depicted by Yass resident Brenda Garland.
“How much more do we as ratepayers have to take of this crappy water…use the $20,000.000 to fix our water, hungry council don’t need a new building, like us your ratepayers YVC suffer in silence,” she said in a social media comment posted on Friday.
General Manager of Council, Chris Berry, deflected the assertion that the two issues could not be solved at once.
“The cost of a new Water Treatment Plant can only be funded by Government grants and/or charges levied for users of Yass water. The money cannot be taken from one project and transferred to another.”
“Council is capable of managing these two major projects, both with significant community benefits, concurrently,” said Berry.
Director of Corporate and Community at Yass Valley Council, Mark Eady, echoed his sentiments and reiterated the Council’s stance that the water remains an absolute priority.
“It’s political at the moment in terms of election promises.”
“If you look at our financials and in the council reports every month, you will see that every loan we have is for water and sewer,” he said.
He also wanted it to be acknowledged that this new Civic project was not the Council doing something ahead of its time but merely a way of bringing the Yass Valley Council to the expected standards of the contemporary world.
“We are not a backward bunch of no-hopers who can’t afford something like this.”
“We are actually a growing thriving community…we need to catch Yass up to where it should be,” he said.
Coordinator of Library Services at Yass Valley Council, Kimberley Hughes, was thrilled by the thought of new library space for the community.
“Our library has lots of history behind it, but it’s not fit for purpose.”
“We are very restricted with what we can offer.”
“For us, our real focus is providing that community space, and community consultation will play a huge part in what we provide,” she said.
Kirsty Maher of Maher Automotive and Tyres, who owns one of the businesses that will be forced to move due to the new Civic Precinct’s construction, remained supportive of the project.
“The corner is very degraded, and the council has the means to create an attractive area on the main street.”
“We support the development,” she said.
To have your say on the Yass Valley Council’s new Civic Precinct project, email firstname.lastname@example.org and provide your opinion along with your name and contact details.