ORANGE City Council is back on the case of the troubled Kurim shopping centre after a gate into the dilapidated building was prised open by vandals over the school holidays.
But legal constraints mean there is little the council can do to force changes at the centre.
Councillors decided to continue working collaboratively with the centre’s owner Eddy Eid, in a closed council meeting last Tuesday, after councillor Neil Jones requested urgent action be taken.
Mr Eid unveiled plans to transform the building into a two-storey childcare and community centre costing up to $5 million in September.
He believes the redevelopment will only be possible with financial assistance from council and other tiers of government.
But Orange mayor John Davis said no councillors were keen on contributing.
“It’s fair to say councillors expressed the opinion they wouldn’t buy it,” he said.
“It’s a private person’s place ... it’s their property and their responsibility.”
Cr Davis said the shops had again come up for discussion to ensure council was not liable if something went wrong at the centre.
“It’s very hard to make it safe,” he said.
“Although the building itself is OK and no one is suggesting it should be demolished.
“There are things [council] can do and things we can’t do.”
After several clean-ups at the centre last year, Mr Eid said the condition had remained the same, but vandalism remained unstoppable.
“It doesn’t matter what bars or security you have, kids want to play,” he said.
“The only thing we want to do is work in with council, in the meantime I’m trying to develop it.
“You still get the community throwing a lot of rubbish up there, what can you do? They use it like a dump.”
Mr Eid said he was still waiting for final plans from his architect before he continues pursuing a partnership with council with contributions from the state and federal government.
But so far he has had little traction.
“You need help of the community to make things happen,” he said.
“I have talked to the state [government] but they only fund associations and not-for-profit organisations.”
He said assistance from the federal government was looking more promising with member for Calare John Cobb showing a positive attitude in a written reply.
Cr Jones said he remained concerned the building posed a risk for children especially during the school holidays, but he acknowledged there was little council could do while it was privately owned.
“We’ll continue dialogue with the owner ... I don’t know what the next step is,” he said.
“I have no idea of the owner’s intention, my only concern is that we try to do whatever we can to ensure an accident doesn’t happen.”