Ballarat Councillor Samantha McIntosh
Thederelict Civic Hall may beconverted into a library under anambitious new plan being considered byBallarat councillors.
In atwist on traditional libraries,discussions are also underway on the possibility ofTai Chi and yoga classesbeing held outside the hall inthe revamped Civic Square.
There are also plans for anonsitecafe andyouth centre, while the existing Doveton Street Northlibrary would be converted into office space.
The Courierunderstands threefinaldesigns were canvassed for the sitebut a severe lack of funding meant the library adaptationof the hall was deemed by as experts asthe only affordable option.
In three years, the council has drained an$8 million pot of money set aside for the project on consultationand design workleaving only$6.8 million leftoverfor physicalworks.
The controversial proposal for the siteincludedtransforming the Civic Hall’s ailing interior into a state-of-the-artlibrary with a strong focus on extending itsdigital collections.
The Courierunderstands therewould also be conference and events rooms inside the building which would be available for use bythe public free of charge.
Councillors are understood to be divided on the idea with some arguing anyaction wasneeded to activatethe site which has become a glaring eyesore and burden on ratepayers.
However, others believed the planwasted the potential of the site.
Councillor Samantha McIntosh said alongsidethe development of the Ballarat Railway Precinct, the siteheld thekey to activating the heart of the Central Business District.
When questioned about the idea of converting the Civic Hall into a library, Cr McIntosh declined to speculate on whether she believed it was viable idea.
However, she argued there had been nopublic consultation on the prospect of converting the hall into a library.
“The library was architecturally built to compliment and to be sympathetic tothe use of the Civic Hall,” Cr McIntosh said.
“There has been ample consultation held with our community and we need to be listening to what our public want.To date, there hasn’t been any conversations with the public about whether the library should be moved to the Civic Hall.”
It comes after the council terminated the contract of architectural firm Here Studio before it had a chance tofinishitsdesign process earlier this year.
The plans are set to be presented to councillors at the an assembly meeting tonight.
More to come.
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