The Borough of Queensliffe has been implored to put the redevelopment of the Queenscliffe Historical Museum back into its capital works budget as a matter of urgency.
Prominent local Gary Spry says formal plans for the much-needed upgrade, drawn-up some three years ago, appeared to have slipped off the Council’s agenda amid perceptions it wasn’t a “sexy” enough project.
The former State Government MP said with the museum soon to celebrate its 50th anniversary, its long-suffering volunteers and the wider community deserved more space and modern facilities.
“What a remarkable asset [our] three museums are to this historic township and what a pit that history as such isn’t regarded by local tourism gurus as sexy,” Mr Spry said during a recent speech to the local Probus Club mmbers.
“From a life-enrichment perspective the arts too are important and can be big [economic] drivers. They allow visitors to dig beneath the surface.
“I’m not suggesting that Queenscliff should have a Guggenheim, but we shouldn’t ignore the appeal which well-resourced and well-run local museums can hold for a wider audience either," he said
In 2012 the Borough contracted leading heritage architectural firm Williams Boag to prepare a concept plan to redevelop and link the library, Museum and Visitor Information Centre buildings.
The brief was to design a building sympathetic to the town’s heritage, providing a larger, modern work environment for staff and a drawcard for visitors.
No formal plans for the “Queenscliff Cultural Hub” have been made public. However Councillors have in recent days voted to allocate $10,000 from an unexpected budget surplus towards the project – a long way short of funds required.
“Meanwhile the volunteer office staff at the museum are squeezed into a tiny room to perform their administrative functions and the researchers, both volunteers and visitors alike, have to work cheek by jowl on the public display room,” said Mr Spry.
“If Council officers were asked to work under these conditions I dare say they would spit the dummy.
“This cultural precinct project has been as dead as the proverbial dodo… We don’t ask much but we do expect Councillors to understand and acknowledge the part we play in attracting tourists and enriching the fabric of the community we live in and serve,” he said.
Acting Borough CEO Phil Josipovic said the project remained on the Council's four year plan but was dependent on securing external funding.
"The allocation of $10,000 for the project will fund additional work to update the project proposal including the current estimated construction cost using a quantity surveyor. In addition the allocation will be used to prepare an arborist report for the significant Morton Bay Fig at the rear of the museum to ensure future construction methods do not impact the health of this significant tree.," he said.
"The additional work described above will give Council up to date information required to be ready to submit an application should a suitable Government funding program be announced. When funding is secured, Council will progress community consultation and detail design."
Pictured: The Queenscliff Historical Museum is crammed for space and in need of a makeover, according to former MP Gary Spry
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