Council proposal 'kick in the ribs' to residents
IF LIVINGSTONE Shire Council was to go ahead and sell the Mount Chalmers school buildings, retiree Layne Perkins thinks it would be a "kick to the ribs" for the local community.
Founded in 1901, the old school is steeped in history but since it closed its doors in 2006, there's been an ongoing debate and several spirited community meetings regarding the fate of the school's buildings.
At their latest council meeting on Tuesday, Livingstone Shire Councillors voted to press ahead with a plan to send letters out to local residents advising them that they intended to test the real estate market by seeking expressions of interest from potential tourism operators or private residents to occupy the buildings.
If they were to find a potential purchaser, councillors agreed to delegate authority to the chief executive officer to enter into negotiations.
Vocal opponent of the sale, Mr Perkins, 62, believed the historical buildings needed to remain in public's hands as some sort of community hall, history centre, or day care facility. He was also outraged by council's plan to relocate the Anzac cenotaph.
"That should never ever, ever be moved out of respect to our fallen diggers," Mr Perkins said. "When they said they were going to sell (the school), I quickly ran around in one week and threw a petition around the residents in the local area and we got something like 260 odd signatures.
"We presented that to council and council, to this date, has never come back to me and quizzed us or spoke to us on the petition."
Livingstone Shire mayor Bill Ludwig disputed the Mr Perkins' allegation saying they hosted a community meeting in Mount Chalmers a few months after receiving the petition to personally gauge the mood of the community.
Cr Ludwig said with no money coming in from the aging buildings facing maintenance issues, the majority of the Mount Chalmers community members attending the meeting had indicated support for selling the buildings in return for preserving the public use school oval and constructing supporting infrastructure on the site including a shed and toilet facilities.
Livingstone Shire Councillor Glenda Mather said while she could understand the attachment to the historical buildings, there was a financial reality needing to be faced which would be better explained now in another public meeting.