Function centre sale could secure future of showground: Turner

THE Orange Function Centre could be sold off and the proceeds used to build a new multipurpose centre at the Orange Showground, if councillors agree to a suggestion from Cr Russell Turner.

Cr Turner hailed the move as a way to end the debate about the future of the showground and the function centre once and for all.

“I’d like the Orange Showground to be something we’re all proud of,” he said.

Earlier in the year, Orange mayor John Davis’s suggestion to hand the function centre over to the Orange Art Society was howled down by members of other community groups.

Cr Turner acknowledged the centre’s sell-off would “get a lot of flack” from community users and the volunteers involved in building the centre.

“I’m fully aware there were thousands of voluntary hours, but it was built in 1963 and we’ve moved on,” he said.

“There was always doubt in the past of what would replace it ... but it will be replaced with a new modern facility. It’s vital for a city this size that we have a function centre complex that’s available for everyone.”

Cr Turner said he had no preference for the centre to be bought by a community group, suggesting instead the highway frontage could be the ideal location to fill the gap in the market for a premium hotel in Orange.

“We should look at getting the best financial opportunity out of it by looking at all the expressions of interest,” he said.

“We’ve talked for many years of setting [the function centre] up as the site of a four or five start hotel.”

Cr Turner said a multipurpose facility at the showground would give a lot more undercover display spaces and would be used more than the Orange Function Centre.

“We’d make it multi-use as much as possible with an indoor and outdoor area for open air concerts, car and motor shows, the list is endless,” he said.

“It would give Orange the opportunity to hold a lot more functions than we have in the past.”

Cr Turner’s motion will be debated at tonight’s council meeting.

Councillors will also decide whether to go ahead with staff recommendations to establish a showground working party to move ahead with plans to scrap the deed of covenant over the showground between Orange Show Society and the council.

Cr Turner said he was confident the show committee would stop fighting for the deed to be retained if its members knew the showground was going to be upgraded.

The camp draft association were also more likely to spend money on their facilities if they knew the ground’s future was safe, Cr Turner said.

clare.colley@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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