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Friday, May 17, 2024

Werribee’s Kelly Park Centre To Face Demolition Stirring Emotions And Criticism

Wyndham City Council's decision to demolish the Kelly Park Centre in Werribee has left the local community dismayed. Once a vibrant hub, the center suffered severe damage in a fire on June 26, 2022, disrupting community activities.

Wyndham City Council’s decision to demolish the beloved Kelly Park Centre in Werribee has ignited a firestorm of emotions and sparked intense scrutiny. Once a vibrant hub of community activity and connection, the centre fell victim to a devastating fire on June 26, 2022, leaving behind a charred shell of what was once a cherished gathering place.

Kelly Park Centre Fire Werribee

Residents, already reeling from the loss, were further dismayed by the lack of communication from the council regarding the centre’s condition and potential asbestos hazards.

It took relentless efforts from a concerned resident, armed with photographic evidence, to finally prompt a response from the council. What followed was a bombshell revelation: plans to demolish the centre, with no intention of rebuilding, citing exorbitant restoration costs as the primary deterrent.

The council’s decision, outlined in a letter to former users, emphasized the extensive damage and the insurmountable expense of repairs, painting a grim picture for those who had hoped for a revival of their beloved community space.

The promise of converting the site into public open space did little to assuage the mounting discontent, especially given the glaring omission of addressing the asbestos concerns raised by residents.

The outcry from the community has been palpable, with fears mounting over the loss of a vital resource and the impact on community cohesion. Many residents, already struggling with the accessibility of alternative venues, are left feeling marginalised and disconnected from the decision-making process.

New Open Space For Kelly Park

The fire-devastated Kelly Park Centre in Werribee is set to undergo a transformation into a vibrant, new public open space, marking a significant step towards revitalising the area.

After the demolition, the land will be turfed to create an interim community space, providing an area for residents to enjoy while plans for the formal upgrade take shape

Wyndham City Deputy Mayor, Councillor Josh Gilligan, said given the significant out-of-pocket cost required to rebuild the centre and upgrade it to meet current building and safety standards, restoring the land to public open space would deliver the greatest community benefit relative to cost.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the Kelly Park precinct and we are looking forward to developing a public open space the whole family can enjoy,” Cr Gilligan said.

“Public open spaces are essential for the wellbeing of a community – they provide opportunity for relaxation, recreation and socialising, and contribute to a neighbourhood’s local character and sense of place.”

“Kelly Park is a much-loved space for community events, including Park Lounge, Summer in the Park, markets and festivals.”  

“By creating more open space at this site Council can expand on these offerings and increase activation in line with the Werribee City Centre Structure Plan.”

“Any work to the site, which is heritage listed, will ensure that heritage values are protected and enhanced where possible in accordance with The Wyndham Planning Scheme.”

As the impending demolition looms over Werribee, the council’s pledge to preserve the site’s heritage values rings hollow in the ears of a grieving community.

With the demolition of the Kelly Park Centre, not only a building but a cherished symbol of gathering, learning, and unity, will fade into memory, leaving behind a void that may never be filled.

Former users of Kelly Park Centre will continue to be accommodated at alternative suitable facilities across Wyndham in 2024, while Council officers will work closely with the groups to ensure they are settled at appropriate alternative venues from 2025.

Editorial Team
Editorial Team
The Werrribee News editorial team is managed by Austech Media Inc and the journalist at Tech Business News - Australia
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