THE sun may not have been shining, but there were plenty of beaming smiles for the official opening last Thursday of the final stage in the Sandy Point Community Centre project.
This was the beautification of the grounds – the T.P. Taylor Reserve – which surround the centre. It includes the installation of shade sails over the children’s playground, the re-establishment of a half-basketball court, new fencing around the tennis courts and the extension of the fencing to enclose the basketball court. Concrete connecting pathways have been laid to connect all the elements on the reserve, the shed relocated and seating added. Turf was laid on the former dustbowl (or mud bath, depending on the weather) beside the centre and spotlights were put in above the tennis court, and finally a new rotunda was constructed over the barbecue.
About 30 or so people gathered at the centre on Thursday to celebrate the completion of the project. A representative of the State Government, which contributed the bulk ($133,000) of the funding, was unable to be at the ceremony. However, South Gippsland Shire Council, which contributed $36,000, was well represented, along with a sprinkling of the local community.
“This is an opportunity to celebrate the realisation of a vision of the Sandy Point community,” said SGSC community services director Jan Martin. She praised the “amazing determination” of the community which led to the completion of the enhancement project.
The deputy mayor, Cr Nigel Hutchinson-Brooks, deputising for mayor Jeanette Harding, said he had always been impressed by the spirit of the Sandy Point community and the ‘can-do’ attitude.
“I take my hat off to you for raising the money and providing what is now a fabulous facility for your community,” he said. “I acknowledge the enormous amount of work that has made this all happen and I congratulate you.”
Finally completed at the end of 2012, the community centre was constructed after 12 years of lobbying and fund raising. Most generous was the former federal Labor government, which in 2007 contributed $1.3 million towards the $1.5 million plus project as part of its bid to stimulate the economy and keep Australia out of the global recession. The community raised an impressive $150,000, and the council matched this figure.
The T.P. Taylor Hall Reserve committee of management, however, always felt that the job was only half done and that the reserve surrounding the new building needed to be brought up to the same standard in order to make it complete.
Consequently, discussions were begun with the shire to see how this could be achieved.
Committee president Dianne Cooper paid tribute to the shire’s grants officer, Penni Ellicott, for assisting with the grant application to the State Government. Once the ‘Putting Locals First’ grant came through, she said, it was a pleasure to work on the enhancement project with the shire’s technical officer, Jesse Joyce.
Coastal-Promontory Ward Councillors Mohya Davies and Kieran Kennedy were at the celebration, along with Cr Hutchinson-Brooks. Ms Cooper also thanked them. “We are so lucky with the councillors we have. They may not always agree, but they always listen to you and give you a fair go,” she said.
The new outdoor facilities were completed by the start of last summer and the community has already made good use of them. There has even been a wedding ceremony on the new lawn, and there are plans for bocce and croquet. The community centre is a popular venue for wedding receptions, as well as markets, art shows, trivia nights and film nights. It is also regularly used for indoor bowls and yoga, and beauty therapy clinics are run out of one of its consulting rooms. There is room for more activities, however, and anyone looking for a venue is invited to check out the Sandy Point Community Centre website.