The risk of losing Alstonville Preschool, which is currently without a permanent home, went a long way to sway Ballina Shire councillors to allow the group the interim use of the Wollongbar Community Hall.
Council supported the motion at its meeting on Thursday, with a vote of 8–2 (Jeff Johnson and Keith Williams against) to allow temporary use of the hall, although it is adjacent to another pre-school.
Under the licensing terms a preschool has to operate continuously to remain accredited and it is the possibility of not having a premises for even 24 hours, that raised the hands of the majority last Thursday during the Ballina council meeting.
Janine Frangos from the Wollongbar Community Preschool spoke in opposition of the item saying the current preschool has several concerns including the children’s safety in regards to the amount of extra traffic and the condition of the parking area.
Council also approved the allocation of $40,000 to address the traffic management issues, with funding to be sourced from the Civil Works Contingency Reserve. The expenditure will not to proceed unless the Alstonville Preschool actually takes up their interim occupation at the hall.
Echonetdaily spoke to a very happy Alstonville contingent after the meeting. ‘We are very relieved that we will have an option in terms of somewhere to go in January’, said Katherine Buckley, the Alstonville Community Preschool Incorporated president. ‘We are obviously hoping that the preferred site at Amaze ‘n’ Place will come off as a venue that is within Alstonville, but Wollongbar Hall gives us a surety that there will be continuing preschool for Alstonville and the broader community in January.
‘There has been a great deal of uncertainty for families as to whether there will be continuation because we haven’t had a site. So this adds surety to the fact that we will have somewhere to operate from for January 2014. Obviously, we are going for a better option which would be a site in Alstonville, but this a good fall back option for us.’
Ms Buckey said she could definitely see the point of view of the operators of the Wollongbar Preschool whose premises is next door to the hall. ‘We understand their concerns’, said Ms Buckley. It has been a real issue for them for a long time. We would hope to work collaboratively with them in terms of the parking, traffic, enrollments and just come to some understanding around that. I think council has also said they are willing to help with all of those things which is fantastic.
Ms Buckley said one of the options to help solve the traffic issue is staggering start and finish times at the schools, there is also parking that is able to be utilised out on the street with a pedestrian walk way to the hall.
‘We would also do road safety campaigns with the parents and children. We are prepared to make some concessions in terms of how we would operate so that we could best work in with their needs as well.’