By Darren Coyne
Lismore City councillors are expected to once again apply for Federal funding to build an art gallery, and upgrade the South Lismore Sewerage Treatment Plant.
But this time around, after being rejected in the first round of the National Stronger Regions Fund, the council is expected to apply for an increase in the amount of funding for the art gallery.
The council initially listed the art gallery project as costing $4.6 million but staff now say $5.8 million dollars is a more realistic figure.
The council had called for tenders to appoint an architect for the job, receiving 17 submissions.
The submissions were assessed by the Gallery Steering Committee which comprised three Councillors, staff and one member of the professional arts community.
At tonight’s meeting, staff have recommended that councillors decline to accept the tenders, and instead enter into direct negotiations with Dominic Finlay Jones Architects.
The council had previously resolved to redevelop C Block at the former Lismore High School site in Keen Street to house the gallery.
The total project cost was originally estimated at $4.6 million, which included C Block refurbishment and the creation of a ‘piazza’, public open space situated within the Quadrangle, i.e. the Gallery, the Library and the Conservatorium.
With the revised building estimate of $5.8 million, the council would have to increase its borrowings for the project to $2.263 million.
Meanwhile, councillors are also being asked to re-submit an application to fund the South Lismore Sewerage Treatment plant upgrade.
Staff have argued that upgrade of the STP is critical to the ongoing development of the city as it would provide increased capacity for future development, and in particular to the development of the North Lismore Plateau.
The North Lismore Plateau development received a setback recently when the NSW Land and Environment Court supported a challenge to the proposal by Bundjalung man, Mickey Ryan.
The court found that the plan displayed by the council was invalid because environmental zones were removed after the public display period.
Mayor Jenny Dowell has said however that the council remained committed to the project and would re-advertised plans in a couple of months.
Meanwhile, councillors at tonight’s extraordinary meeting, which begins at 6pm, will also vote on proposed increases to rates and charges.