Moonee Valley Council today announced a promise from Bill Shorten that an elected federal Labor government will invest $2m in Flemington’s new community hub.
Moonee Valley councillors have not yet voted on the outcome of consultation on the community hub, and consultation is ongoing.
The federal funding promise was announced on council’s Facebook page in an openly partisan post that raises a few questions about what a local government can publish during an election period.
Funding for community facilities is always welcome, but the consultation for this project has highlighted some key concerns about the proposed options.
The central concern has been council’s proposed location of the new hub. A petition with 204 local signatures has been handed to council asking for the location to be reconsidered to avoid building a huge centre and car park on the best and safest part of Flemington’s green open space (depicted in Option 3 below).
Questions have also been raised about a road through the park, and what exactly the $40m will buy for the community: that is, will the centre provide for the needs of Flemington’s diverse community?
We’ve been told the centre will have meeting rooms, a foyer, a double highball court, a kitchen and a community hall.
But a number of key questions have not been answered, such as:
- what will people do at the centre? Classes? Meetings? Yoga? Play music? Art? Maternal and child health? Physio? Social services appointments?
- what sort of programs will be prioritised, and on what basis?
- who will be able to use the meeting rooms and at what cost?
- will the community hall be suitable for drama and music performances?
- what purpose will the foyer serve and how will this be achieved?
- where will sports change rooms be located and how will these be accessed after hours?
- will there be a seated pavilion area (and will this be looking directly into the sun)?
No clear answers have been provided on the purpose, capacity and catchment of the centre.
In response to the queries raised about the location, residents have been advised that it is imperative that the new building faces north for prime solar access to enable indoor/outdoor spaces.
A compromise option has been suggested with a section facing north, but council has not yet responded to this suggested solution.
Now there’s a promise for funding before Moonee Valley Council has even decided where, and what, a community in hub in Flemington should be.
Spending money on facilities is a great outcome for Flemington, but getting it right requires a considered and thoughtful approach.
$40m can buy a wide range of community facilities: support for the homeless, language learning and sharing facilities, sporting grounds, beautiful gardens, shared IT spaces, a heritage gallery, a drama theatre.
The conundrum for Moonee Valley Council is how to spend forty million dollars most wisely in a way that will best meet the community’s needs and bring people together.
Many councils have tried to build community hubs and there are mixed results. One example in Doveton might provide a lesson from which Moonee Valley can learn.
Doveton’s community hub faces north, but on a weekend in May did not appear to be the thriving hub imagined:
Blinds down and empty.
In fact, the City of Casey, having built the hub, was trying to work out in January what should happen inside it.
We don’t want this to happen in Flemington, but plans seem to be hurtling towards a massive building being built on the park, despite there being no clearly communicated plan about what will happen inside the building, and the futures of Debney Meadows Primary School, the Hopetoun childcare centre, and the DHHS land.
Many residents have been working hard to ask Moonee Valley councillors to consider all of these matters when they vote on whether to build the community hub in the way council officers recommend.
It’s now up to Moonee Valley Council to decide how best to support the Flemington community – whatever the federal funding.