Popular Gympie venue to be shut until late next year
GYMPIE’S Civic Centre is likely to remain shut until September next year after numerous safety problems including asbestos in the roof and electrical issues were found.
Gympie Regional Council planned to give the centre a $1.5 million facelift over the next few months to bring the venue in line with modern entertainment facilities.
However during preparations for these upgrades “major” maintenance issues were found.
These included asbestos in the roof, electrical problems behind the walls and an issue with the fire hose reel shaft, all of which put the centre’s ability to serve as an emergency centre during disasters sat risk.
The council is now asking the State Government to be allowed to change what its $1.5 million grant will pay for.
This would mean the council cannot meet the date’s June 2021 deadline to have the project finished.
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Without the State’s approval the council to be forced to foot the entire bill for these repairs, which total more than $2 million.
Mayor Glen Hartwig said the decision to put asset repair ahead of other improvements was bout “making sure the structure is sound before we go and put lipstick on a pig”.
“Getting behind the walls fixed … is probably a better move than putting a new wall up, and (then) tearing it down because you forgot to fix the power behind it,” Mr Hartwig said.
The council’s staff report said the centre has had “very little” done in upgrades since it opened in 1977, with the exception of a new bar.
The report said it was “now struggling to meet the expected service levels of modern events, conferences, touring productions, and community activities”.
The upgrades also create a new problem: the expected lengthy closure means the council will have to reschedule events already booked at the venue for the next few months.
CEO Shane Gray said the shutdown might seem lengthy but its better to plan for a long inconvenience than to promise something earl and keep pushing it back, as has happened on other council projects.
Councillors unanimously supported the plan.