Ballina community centre approved

It has been eight years in the planning, but finally the long-awaited Ballina Community Services Centre is set to be built at Treelands Reserve.

On-site construction of the $4 million facility is due to start as early as this week.

The green light for the project was given at an extraordinary meeting of Ballina Shire Council last month after staff had earlier recommended the project be scrapped because of budget concerns and uncertainty over tenancies.

The approval has been welcomed by Ballina District Community Services Association (BDCSA) as well as acting mayor David Wright.

BDCSA executive officer Dianna Howell said, by approving the project, Council was set to broaden its vision for the rapidly growing community.

Ms Howell said the centre would act as a hub or one-stop shop for the delivery of community services for Ballina residents as well as enabling them to participate more fully in community life.

Cr Wright said he was both excited and relieved that, after many years of hard work by both Council and a number of community groups, construction of the building was set to start.

The centre will provide a range of community-based services, catering primarily for aged, dementia and disability related services. Other facilities include meeting rooms for community groups and office accommodation for other community based services.

Cr Wright praised all those involved in seeing the project come to fruition, thanking and making special mention of local retirees Doug Stinson and Mary Guthrie for their huge contribution to the project.

Funding for the centre includes: $1,331,000 from Council; $800,000 from the federal Department of Transport and Regional Services; $720,000 from NSW Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care; an anonymous donation of $520,000; and Ballina shire developer contributions of $665,000 totalling $4,036,000.

Councils project manager for the centre, Chris Allison, told The Echo the anonymous donor, believed to have been a long-term resident of Ballina, had bequeathed the $520,000 from her estate before she died a couple of years ago.

He said a condition of the donation was for the donors identity to remain anonymous.

The donation is believed to be the biggest gift to the shire by an individual.

Ms Howell said the decision to go ahead with the centre would reward the hard work and commitment of many people who had contributed in the past eight years to make the project a reality.

Community facilities of this kind managed in partnership with Council and the community will help make Ballina shire a place where people can readily find the support and information they need to live healthy and productive lives and to participate as fully as they are able in community activities, Ms Howell said.

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