ORANGE City Council could bankroll the Southern Skies Earth and Space Centre, if the $9.95 million project was also able to attract funding from the federal or state government and the private sector.
Councillors agreed to help the Orange Planetarium group secure the funds it needs following a presentation from president Rod Somerville at Tuesday’s council meeting.
Long-time supporter, councillor Chris Gryllis said council should see what government grants were available before deciding how much to commit to the project.
He would not be drawn on how much the council could chip in but said it should be as little as possible.
“I’m sure we could find money from somewhere,” he said.
Previously council has supported the venture by allocating land near the Botanic Gardens in 2009 and funding a $10,000 feasibility study in 2006.
Mr Somerville was also reluctant to say how much money he would like council to give the project, but said their support could see the group secure enough funds by the end of the year.
“It would be nice to have all of it, but that’s not going to happen,” he said.
“Any amount would be great.”
He said having council on board to help source funding would give the group an in when applying for grants.
The group’s first attempt at securing federal government funding through the Regional Development Fund (RDAF) in 2011 failed because the government preferred to bankroll projects that could match its contribution dollar for dollar.
Mr Somerville said the system made it difficult for start-up projects.
“You have to have money behind you to get more money,” he said.
Attempts to attract private funding had also proved challenging.
He said the group was yet to apply for state government funding, but had met with state and federal government representatives.
Cr Gryllis said the “shovel-ready” project would be an “absolutely tremendous facility” for educational purposes and tourism.
“I think we should go for it,” he said.
“We’re very lucky to have the expertise and plenty of experience to put it together.
“Our investment of $10,000 in the past to do a study was an excellent outcome.”
Cr Glenn Taylor also spoke in support of the project.
“I think it’s something we should get right behind,” he said.
“It should be one of our number one priorities.” clare.colley@