In planning the $6 million St George Library Hub development to improve educational and business opportunities for residents of the Balonne Shire, Council has involved its community at every possible opportunity.
There is no doubt that the amount of consultation undertaken to date for this project has been extensive, utilising a range of methods including face-to-face meetings, individual meetings, direct opportunities to speak with the Project Coordinator, and online engagement through surveys and open forums.
Since October 2018, Council has run a total of 13 community consultation sessions and 58 meetings with stakeholders for the St George Library Hub project to ensure residents’ interests were fully considered.
The stakeholders included education establishments, the business community, St George Arts Group, Care Balonne, Goondir Health Services, South West Indigenous Corporation, senior residents, and school students.
Online community engagement was also developed, and local children participated in a ‘design your dream library’ competition in addition to their meetings with the Project Officer.
The consultations garnered mostly positive feedback, and a report detailing nine post-concept consultations was made freely available on Council’s website balonne.qld.gov.au/st-george-library-hub.
Additional information about the plans and concept designs was also made available in the same manner.
Regarding the demolition of existing buildings, this was considered a necessary action for the safety of all concerned.
A report from the project’s consulting architect confirmed the old library – otherwise known as the original Council Chambers – was in poor condition, had been heavily modified over past decades to bear little resemblance to the original, and was too small to suit community purposes.
Further investigation by an asbestos management contractor also found asbestos from previous modifications on the premises, which would pose another safety concern for our community.
An additional building between the old and current library, a former poisons store, was determined to pose potential health risks and was not compliant with accessibility requirements.
The consulting architect also concluded the old library and former poisons store would block the development of a green space, which was an important inclusion to the future St George Library Hub for the majority of those consulted, and would limit accessibility to the community facility.
Keeping the façade of the old library was considered by Council as an option during the planning phase of the St George Library Hub.
To honour the rich history of our region, including the site where the St George Library Hub will stand, concept plans for the new library include a dedicated space for the celebration of local history and culture.