WORKS have officially started on the region’s newest youth centre.
The $2.5 million facility will be built on a 2.4-hectare site at Coledale’s Centenary Park and is expected to be completed in November this year.
About 100 residents, members of parliament, police personnel, service providers and other curious onlookers crowded the park yesterday to witness the official start of construction, which included a tree-planting ceremony to mark the momentous occasion.
Neil Flanders, a healthy lifestyle worker with the Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Services, said the youth centre would provide invaluable opportunities for Coledale youth.
“It will give them something to do and keep them active – the whole community will benefit,” the former Coledale resident said.
“Things that may occur because of boredom will be substantially decreased because of the facility.
“It will save them having to walk into town to go to The Youthie.”
The project, known as the NOW initiative, involves a range of improvements to the streetscape, roads and built environment in Coledale, the creation of 58 new blocks for affordable housing and the construction of the youth centre.
As part of the plan, the council-run drop-in centre for youth aged 12 to 18 years, will be relocated from its site at Tamworth PCYC and incorporated into the new facility.
Speaking on behalf of the young people of the area, Peel High School students Janaya Lamb and Paris Knox thanked Tamworth Regional Council for its decision to build the centre in their own backyard.
The Year 9 students said they were looking forward to the centre opening and the after-school activities that would accompany it.
Mayor Col Murray said he was confident the purpose-built centre, which will provide education, health and recreational opportunities for youth across the region, would be an “amazing success”.
Member for New England Barnaby Joyce praised his predecessor, Tony Windsor, for helping secure funding for the project and said the government was “keeping Coledale in its sights”.
“The greatest investment for any community is the kids,” Mr Joyce said.
“They’re the people who carry the banner forward.”
The centre is a key element of a community renewal project funded through a $10.68 million federal government grant to TRC under the Building Better Regional Cities initiative.
In January, Best Practice Constructions was awarded the tender to build the youth centre.