Moving appeal for Gunnedah visitor centre

TWO sites in Gunnedah’s CBD have firmed as the potential spot for the possible relocation of the town’s visitor information centre (VIC) following a second public meeting on Monday night. 

A consultant to Gunnedah Shire Council gave a presentation to almost 100 people at The Civic, giving the pros and cons of five sites, then recommending two as being the best candidates.

Jenny Rand, of Jenny Rand & Associates, cited The Civic in Chandos St or Wolseley Park opposite it as the two best sites.

The Wolseley Park option would either encompass a $2 million building or a small demountable building, Gunnedah mayor Owen Hasler said yesterday. 

The Civic option would cost about $180,000 to build.

He emphasised council was definitely not going to sell the present visitor information centre, saying gossip about this was incorrect. 

“That’s never been countenanced by council – it’s never been raised as an issue,” Cr Hasler said.

He said a 5000-signature petition presented to him at the meeting and headed “Not for sale”, “misrepresents what is, in fact, taking place”. 

The meeting, which went for more than two hours, was emotional.

Other uses for the VIC building, if the VIC itself was moved, including creating a memorial space to former long-time Gunnedah mayor, the late Bill Clegg (who helped pay about one-third of the VIC’s building costs), and possibly hanging up to 40 Jean Isherwood watercolours depicting the Dorothea Mackellar poem My Country in a room added to the VIC in 2010.

In light of this and the strong “anti-move” feeling in the town, Cr Hasler said it would be prudent not to rush any decision on relocating the VIC.

He said a committee meeting held last week had deferred its decision on whether to put up the Isherwood paintings because it would cost about $30,000 to put up the track lighting needed to protect the delicate watercolours – and until the VIC decision was made it could well prove to be an unnecessary expense.

If the VIC stayed at its present location, about $70,000 in signage would be required.

“Signage is quite clearly not effective at that site ... I think everyone agrees the signage needs to be upgraded,” Cr Hasler said.

“We would have to, even if we stay in the present location for a year or two, still have to spend $70,000 on signage.”

The VIC might be moved to another location as part of a second rail overpass planned for the town.

Once the rail overpass is built by the end of 2016, the present location of the centre, South St, will no longer be part of the Kamilaroi Highway, which is why council is thinking of relocating the centre.

But the residents behind the petition, Don and Heather Pasterski and Ian and Kay Wise, say the centre, in its present location, was perfectly situated, with plenty of parking.

People have up to the end of May to make a submission, with the report to council likely to be at the general council meeting in July.

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