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Hall vision suits growing community

To service the needs of the growing Pomonal community, plans were recently finalised for a new community centre within the town.

The new centre will replace the ageing Town Hall that has served the community since the early 1930s.

The bigger, better and more modern centre, to be situated at the Pomonal Recreation Reserve, will meet the needs of sporting user groups and the broader community for at least the next 50 years.

According to secretary of both the Pomonal Progress Association and the Pomonal Recreation Hall Committee, Alison Bainbridge, the need for the new facility was first identified in the 2001-2003 Pomonal Community Action Plan (CAP).

“The 2007 master plan outlines a total replacement of the public hall, brand new external toilets and general beautification works,” she said. “A feature will be the new community space that will be able to accommodate about 200 people.”

Although identified in the CAP several years earlier, the project came under the spotlight in 2005 when the Pomonal Progress Association and Ararat Rural City Council each contributed $5,000 towards a project feasibility study.

A set of recommendations was generated by a consultant, whose findings along with the results of a community survey were presented to the community at an information evening.

“We had 50 responses to our survey which is just unheard of!” said Alison. “There was such high support for the project to continue onto the next step.”

Unfortunately the project was put on hold when the 2005/2006 summer bushfires hit the Grampians region, devastating the Pomonal community.

“But in May 2006 we got together with Council to get it happening again. We involved a whole range of interest groups and individuals to find out what they wanted from the new facility, such as meeting space, showers, mobile stage and storage space. We made up a needs list and a wish list and gave this to Council.”

Groups involved in this planning meeting included the Pomonal Cricket Club, Pomonal Tennis Club, Pomonal and Eastern Grampians Tourism Association, Pomonal Primary School, Pomonal Market committee and local CFA.

Council went ahead to create a master plan from this feedback which went through another community consultation process including an information session, meetings with user groups, and placing plans on display at the general store with a comments book.

Alison said the community strongly supported the final master plan, which was expected to be rolled out to completion before 2010.

An external toilet upgrade looks likely to be completed first, thanks to funding received through the Australian Government’s Community Water Grant initiative for various works at the recreation reserve, including plumbing, tanks and irrigation. This will meet the more immediate needs of locals and tourists.

The Pomonal Recreation Hall Committee will now be working closely with Council to submit a funding proposal,” said Alison.

“Because we’ve been keeping a lot of government agencies in the loop with the project, particularly following the bushfire, we are confident that the funding will come through."

Alison said the massive amount of in-kind work and labour lined up for the project – the biggest for Pomonal to date - would dramatically assist the funding application process.

“People here are realistic in their expectations and confident about producing what they need. There are good people on the committee with great skills and knowledge. We’re excited about the project and the possibilities it will bring to our community.”