The Lismore City Council will tonight decide whether to apply for funding for a new art gallery, or an upgrade of sewerage works.
Funds are available under the federal government’s National Stronger Regions Fund, but the council must be able to match any government money.
In a mayoral minute, Cr Jenny Dowell has put forward the case for the art gallery, pointing out that existing gallery would be 60 years old this year, despite it being established as a temporary gallery.
She said the community had pledged $120,000 and ‘another source’ has indicated a possible donation of $500,000.
‘These amounts combined with the value of the existing building, estimated as $450,000 and other grants in reserves provide at least $1.5 million towards a new gallery,’ she said.
‘Simultaneously a steering committee in council has recently called for expressions of interest from architects for the redevelopment of C block into a new gallery. ‘
Cr Dowell said 17 architectural companies had lodged applications and the committee had selected three to be invited to develop their concepts further.
She said total cost of the proposed development would be $4.6 million, with $4 million for the gallery and $600,000 for the open space or a piazza.
‘The opportunity to apply for half the funding of $2.3 million ($2 million for the gallery and $300,000 towards the development of the piazza) is timely and the provision of council’s contribution of $2.3 million is achievable with the help of the community.’
Cr Greg Bennett has already indicated he will oppose the application and instead push for an upgrade of the Dawson Street pump station and the South Lismore sewerage treatment plant.
‘There is an opportunity for council to apply for $10 million to help upgrade its sewerage plant through this grant and staff think there is a real prospect of success,’ Cr Bennett said there was limited council funding available for an art gallery so the council would have to borrow up to $2 million.
‘Council can’t apply for both so applying for the art gallery effectively kills the funding for the sewerage works,’ he said.
‘I believe councillors must put aside “pet”projects and act in the best interests of our community. ‘