Council not sold on sale of function centre

SELLING off the Orange Function Centre to fund a new multifunction centre at the Orange Showground would muddy the debate over two emotive issues for Orange residents,   councillor Glenn Taylor says.

The move from Cr Russell Turner was howled down by the majority of Orange councillors at Tuesday’s meeting, only attracting support from councillors Scott Munro and  Neil Jones.

“We often hear how [the function centre’s] use is declining and maintenance is increasing,” Cr Turner said.

“We would be competing with a brand new facility at the Ex-Services’ if the function centre remained.”

According to council’s annual report the function centre was in use 233 days for the 2011-12 financial year.

But Cr Taylor said it was not appropriate for council to sell off one community facility to fund another unless it went through the council’s budget.

“There are double standards here, a lot of people are very emotional about the showground and the function centre,” he said.

“I don’t think the public would appreciate us tying them together. It muddies the debate.”

“Cr Turner said we should move on, but the same thing could be said about the showground.

Cr Taylor said there were still many people in the community who felt Towac Park was an option as an alternative showground location.

“The function centre still has a very real tangible role in this community and it should remain in place.”

But Cr  Munro said it was a sensible option to look at how much the function centre was worth.

“It’s all about economics,” he said.

“I’ve been to functions there and the floor boards creak ... I think it’s a viable option.”

Cr Jones said  council should investigate the potential sell-off, but suggested that council should hold back from pledging all the funds to the new centre.

Cr Reg Kidd opposed the sell-off saying it would “muddy the waters” when the council was close to resolving issues with the show society.

Cr Jeff Whitton criticised the move to sell a community owned asset and build a new one on crown land at the showground.

Cr Ron Gander said council would need to find out the timeframe for the Ex-Services’ expansion before selling off the centre.

Despite the overwhelming opposition from councillors, Cr Turner tried to rejig his original plan to only allocate “appropriate” funds from the sale to the showground in a last ditch attempt to pass the motion, but was unable to attract support from councillors.

“Those with an emotional tie [to the function centre] have to remember the population has trebled,” he said.

“If this is lost tonight it will be put off for another two to three to five years.”

clare.colley@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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