Local, Politics

Councillors to be asked to sell Museum…. and then lease it back

Coffs Harbour’s oldest building, our Museum is up for sale again if Councillors agree to a proposal at this Thursday’s Council meeting.

Council executive are proposing to Councillors to sell it for $950.000. They then hope to lease it back for $65, 000 a year.

Also up for consideration is the length of the lease for the proposed airport ‘privatisation’

“Can Council confirm that the current Museum site in Harbour Drive cost approximately $800,000 and has additionally had a refit of approximately $900,000 giving a total asset value/cost to Council of around $1.7M?” – Cr Rhoades question to Council this time last year.

Here is the Council recommendation from this Thursday’s agenda;

Recommendation:

That Council:

1.      Approve the sale of Lot 101 DP1041655, 215A Harbour Drive, Coffs Harbour at the agreed price of $950,000 exclusive of GST.

2.      Note that each party will pay their own conveyancing costs in relation to the matter.

3.      Execute all documents necessary to facilitate the sale and under the common  seal of Council if required.

And this is an explanatory note above that recommendation;

Coffs Harbour Council as part of the sale will continue to occupy the property and will enter into a 3 year lease with 3 x 1 year options for continuing tenure initially at a rental of $60,500 per annum net.”

Previous articles from one year ago here at CCO showing this is a financially questionable idea at best can be found here; https://coffscoastoutlook.com.au/?p=32836

An internal view of the Museum

The Executive will will also move to demolish 23 – 31 Gordon St. On Thursday night so as to push forward with the controversial CCS in Gordon Street – something which as of this morning had still not been approved a DA.

Although news reports over the long weekend indicated some form of DA could be approved any day now.

If passed the demolition work is estimated to take eight weeks.

Here is the recommendation from this Thursday’s agenda;

That Council considers the tenders received for Demolition Works, 23 – 31 Gordon Street, Coffs Harbour), Contract No. RFT-1241-TO, and adopts the recommendation in the confidential attachment 1.

The airport privatisation

Also up for discussion and consideration is the proposed length of time for the lease of the airport – details of which are “commercial in confidence” – apparently.

However, Councillor Amos has given notice of his intention to move the following:

“Council immediately make public the proposed length of the Airport lease contract.”

“Let the public know how long the Airport lease is for”; Cr Paul Amos.

The agenda for this Thursday’s council meeting can be found here; https://infocouncil.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/Open/2020/10/CO_20201008_AGN_2233_AT_WEB.htm

12 Comments

  1. 40cmPedestalFan

    Does this mean that the Executive recommendation to form a city sistership with Pyonyang has been postponed?

  2. Gabrielle Brabander

    The purchase price of the Museum was $812,674 in 2011 financial year.
    Total refurbishment costs over multiple financial years, majority of these undertaken in the 2014 financial year was $766,068.
    Total $1,578,742
    Museum was moved from the CBD in 2012: 750 metres away on Harbour Drive.
    Now it appears ratepayers may lease back a building after a sale they have lost money on ?

  3. Who are these councillors and where did common sense go?

  4. HO HUM , Looks like another bloody stupid Council Meeting when her grace and the merry men will make more stupid decisions, and she will use her casting vote to stuff us all up.

    Come on you lot get strong and put forward good reasons to stop this ridiculous waste of money.

    Tell them to pull their heads in and get on with normal Council requirements .

  5. Rob Steurmann

    Gabrielle is right but I think we should take a step back and put a positive spin on her message. It might be better to think of it like this.

    By not doing the repairs on the musuem site:
    1. the Council would have $766,000 available for the Gordon St building,
    2. the community would have a museum in the current location
    3. the Council would make a “profit” of $11,000 ( without including legal costs)

    So it would appear the community would be better off if the Council was to stop thinking.

    By the way did Council spend any money in the exercise to do with the temporary storage facility?

    Is $180 a day for the current museum site a reasonable rental?

    What, heaven forbid, is there to stop a proposed vendor from buying the property and then lease it to a fresh (third) party at say $200 a day?

    It looks like Council went to a lot of trouble to get such a poor result.

  6. Terrie Beckhouse

    The Police Station/Courthouse purchase was very community driven (ask Keith Rhodes). The need for a new home for the Museum was desperate as the original Museum (now Table Tennis Club) was flooded 3 times. Once in 1996 and twice in a few days in March 2009. Over 2 feet of swirling black water went through the museum each time. The flood water was contaminated by the sewerage pumping station behind the Museum Damage to the collection was extensive in 1996. 2009 was less as staff and volunteers worked desperately to raise as much of the collection as possible. There were still losses. Including the building as it was no longer fit for purpose

  7. Archie Black

    Who needs a Museum anyway when the much heralded on line Museum was recently launched by the Council ?
    Now from the comfort of you armchair you can wander to your hearts content on your iPad looking at all the nick nacks collected over the years. You can watch some grainy newsreel video, hear some old timer talk about how great Coffs way back in the day.
    By all means sell off the Museum, there is no point in keeping heritage buildings in Coffs. There is none.
    But what ever money is realised from the sale of the Museum should be embargoed from going to the mayoral palace in Gordon Street.
    To appease the Green Councillor in order to get her vote, why not set up a Koala Cuddling Centre in the Botanic Gardens? Charge tourists a $10 photo fee to have a selfie taken with a koala in their arms.
    Just think of what an investment that $950, 000 would return in no time.
    We may even be able to afford a new library & art gallery.

  8. 40cmPedestalFan

    Just a small part of a true Cultural Plan would include both artisan workshops and outreach from a Cultural Centre into the community. In other words, a plan is not merely finding or constructing a building and putting a cultural activity in it. As a teaser, too, a true Cultural Plan would include learning from and embracing the various countries-of-birth making up our citizenry which leads to all sorts of wondrous scents wafting from the kitchen – food!

    Here we have a location that is uplifted, midway between the town centre and the jetty precinct, is on a main arterial road and one which a citizen or tourist passes regularly. Thus, you see it prominently and proudly when in Coffs, going from the CBD past the Cultural Centre on City Hill to the brilliant Community Space of the new Jetty Precinct.

    That building complex, constructed in stages, on City Hill has its magnificent, inspiring sculptural spire reaching high into the sky, on top of which is a light feature that lives by day as the sculptural inspirational piece (and locator) and by night is lit grandly (or the whole spire-like structure is a light feature). The new community development on the current museum site also has a smaller version of this as further celebration and acknowledgement of a city that grew from a shanty ramshackle into a wholly sophisticated, culturally aware and alive community, one that has no longer lived off the benefits of its natural beauty and is now a national landmark in human achievement.

    Also, then, on the current museum site are … what? A series of artisan workspaces and sales spaces, a living, moving, sounding shaping of leathers and fabrics and wods and glass. Here, also, are workspaces for kids to come and be crafty, be taught, have fun while they begin their exploration of what makes a human a fully rounded and amazing being. And, too, those scents …

    How much of that goes into the City Hill complex? How much onto this midcity site? This midcity site is intimate, easy, down-home – and part of the outreach and hands-on amenity of the true Cultural Plan.

    Visitors? Let them come, wonder, laugh, eat, learn, buy, and go home and … talk!

    None of this need be expensive in construction. It could be put together with the look of old-style stables, all very affordable, nothing exorbitant – site sensitive and carefully designed. If the site isn’t big enough for these sorts of activities, and they should go in as part of the City Hill Cultural complex, then something like this can spark off further ideas and we’ll see what we come up with.

    We have the time, now that Council has stopped the erroneous sumphole of the Gordon St patchworking and is now developing this wondrous new vision. As a community we are unearthing the marvellous cultural activities and foods and dances and clothing within our citizenry and the place of this midcity site within this visionry plan will emerge joyously. Actually, this could be built first, and get the mums and dads and kids and tourists engaged and enthused.

    Thus, this perfectly located site is part of not only an architecturally homogenous visionary concept, it’s a living, breathing little hub of its organic design.

    Wonderful isn’t it?

    There’s an alternative. Sell the site for a song to a developer who charges you a guaranteed and exorbitant rent through the economic recession then when everyone’s forgotten about it it’s turned into a square block of units for all to enjoy as you drive past. A true testament, uplifted here in the centre location, to the dominant mindset within this gutterpit of administrative shoddiness.

    Welcome to Coffs Harbour, everybody.

  9. Gloria Voglsinger

    I cannot get my head around $766,000. for the renovation when it was done after purchasing it. Was it completely rebuilt? I wonder who looked after the accounting side of that job?

  10. 40cmPedestalFan

    Having jumped the shark some while ago on CCO, why not ram my indulgence farther into a reader’s sufferance just a little more with yet another comment. I do so because Coffs is at a turning point. We gain a fully developed Cultural city, right from this point, or we could lose the lot. I promise you, once the Museum site has been sold, once what should be a Community Space as the beach-going element of a true Cultural Plan has been steered into nondescript oblivion, and once that council office space masquerading dishonestly in Gordon St is set in stone, Coffs Harbour will not have the city land to become anything other than a run-of-the-mill coastal development that remains blind to its need to acknowledge human development rather than mere relaxing and recreation. I’ve revised the forty year delay until we reach this point – I now think, once this crossroad is passed and we go in the direction this administration is “recommending”, that’s it. Opportunity lost.

    We can, if there’s political will, recapture a better vision for this city and our region. Do I think it will happen? No.

    There’s a Coffs Harbour mindset that we have to overcome in order to do better. It’s a mindset that has a Councillor, or Steering Committee member, place their vision for themselves and their place in the community over the vision for Coffs Coast and its place in the national mind. This Coffs Harbour Mindset has been here since its very early days and lives, now, in the decimated and unsophisticated patchwork that as ever has relied on the natural beauty to provide the human sustenance rather than anything, not even a hint of it, being provided by visionary leaders.

    Ask yourself … why did the state trundle out such an uninspiring patchwork then throw it to vested interests in the area to “consult” and thereby “include” the “community” in that beachfront site? Why would they not go to any other lengths than the unfortunate, bland, uninclusive, inadequate patchwork they’ve given us? Because Coffs Harbour has done nothing, nothing, to deserve any better. Ever.

    You can imagine state planners tossing the issue to a back desk. “Coffs. Anything will do. Tick the boxes.” I wonder if anyone who put together that plan has even been here.

    But what do we have, until it’s all signed off? We have the Museum site, the Jetty site, and with a fight, the City Hill site. We can reclaim them all with the power of vision.

    In simple form: a Cultural Plan would include City Hill as the centrepiece, with satellite elements of the Plan being the Museum site (perhaps solely for children) and the Jetty Site – yes, the latter is VERY much part of our cultural life. A visionary plan would embrace all of these and connect them through a citzen’s interest and engagement, one feeding off or into another, as well as being interlinked architecturally. What a challenge, but a magnificent one, to somehow physically and visually and particpatorally draw together City Hill with the Jetty as the central Cultural hub. What does it take? Bits of paper, and thought. I know it can be done. The Museum site is then a satelite but integral component in that organic Plan.

    Three incredible areas that can change Coffs Harbour in ways, unfortunately, those involved currently just cannot imagine. Rather, they will look at this and laugh.

    All I can say is: think of the kids.

    We can continue to let Coffs blithely eat itself up in developments with the primary beneficiaries being a select few who go elsewhere for their cultural enrichment – if at all that matters to them personally.

    But children need more. More than just beaches and bike tracks. We are now a people of a very uncertain world, interconnected in ways globally that require of our education and life fulfilment and enjoyment, and celebration, and pleasure, an enrichment that comes from engaging with people, not just beaches, skateparks and bike tracks. We need to provide for our children a wholistic and sophisticated environment in which to develop, and develop with their natural curiousity and heightened, unencumbered (as with adults) interest.

    True Cultural Development does this. It provides this.

    The “plans” and too many of those involved in getting them done, currently, cannot do that for our children. They are well meaning, proficient in their own areas, but they do not think in these terms and their satisfaction to be gained from their involvement does not come from these developing in these terms.

    What I do know, however, is that if the better vision was enacted, they would then, once done, understand.

    Three magnificent areas. Once lost, lost forever. What they hold, until then, is a promise that can give our children enrichment and joy – and provide all the economic benefits that are immediate and ongoing.

    Lovely knowing it’s possible, isnt it…

    • Harrison Fjord

      Great post. But I fear if you didn’t jump the shark previously, you may well have with “think of the kids”. Touch dramatic, yeah?

      Isn’t that what every single generation has said since day dot?

      While I may also harbour frustrations at incessant development – hasn’t the whole basis of our economy been that we smash stuff up and rebuild it? To claim that this is the last time Coffs Harbour would have a shot at something special is perhaps a little offensive to “the kids” and their imaginations, surely.

      After all, maybe they will find an alternative to the creative destruction that made us all rich.

      Who knows, maybe they will really cut sick and have a go at taking land back from the descendents of the very people the previous generations (and ours) sold it to.

      That’s why I’ll send my kids to the Marx & Engels School of Alternative Indoctrination for sure.

      • 40cmPedestalFan

        Yep. I admit: crook state of affairs, isn’t it, when kids have to be used as leverage to prise open the rusted vicegrip of adult cultural infantalism to let in a little peek of futuristic daylight.

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