7 September 2020

Civic precinct to relocate Yass Library and overhaul council building

| Hannah Sparks
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Michael McManus standing in front of Crago's Mill in Yass, reading plans.

Yass Valley Council general manager Chris Berry in front of the former Crago Mill. Photo: Supplied.

The library in Yass will move to a civic precinct proposed by Yass Valley Council to replace its current administration building on Comur Street that is deemed ‘not fit for purpose’.

The civic precinct will also include community meeting rooms, a small business centre/work hub, short-term accommodation for council contractors, space for long-term government tenants, such as Service NSW, and an open area/plaza.

Mayor Rowena Abbey said Yass Valley Council is keen to understand if the plans for the civic precinct meet community needs and expectations.

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“The current administration building and the library are both not fit for purpose and council has a responsibility to its employees and the community to bring these buildings up to modern standards,” she said.

“Council wants the community to be involved in this design process. Feedback is integral and will be provided to the successful designer for consideration in the development of plans.”

A new library would benefit the region’s growing population, particularly the young and elderly, said Councillor Jasmin Jones.

“The current library is below the standard our community needs,” she said at Yass Valley Council’s ordinary meeting on 26 August, when all councillors voted in favour of the civic precinct.

The precinct would also retain the town’s historic Crago’s Mill, which has stood unused for many years behind the council’s current administration building.

Yass resident Bec Duncan said it is important the community has input at the concept stage as ratepayers would be “expected to pay”.

“The council will, of course, have views, but we who pay the piper, call the tune,” she said. “For too long, council has failed to be open with the community and we have a right to be heard.”

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Former Yass Valley Council Mayor Nic Carmody said council had similar plans to build a community centre 10 years ago at no cost to ratepayers.

“It’s been long overdue and has to be done at no cost to ratepayers,” he said. “Council has the ability to do that through selling assets and funding.”

How council will fund the civic precinct is yet to be decided, said Yass Valley Council general manager Chris Berry.

“No decision has been made on how the construction will be funded, but it is likely to be a combination of grant funds, loans and possible sale of assets,” he said.

Funding to develop the civic precinct plans was allocated in this year’s council budget.

Council will now seek a designer to assist with the project plans, which will give a clearer view of the civic precinct costs, said Mr Berry.

Another Yass resident, Vanessa Forsyth, said she wanted the civic precinct to include something for young people to do.

“If the community has a decent idea, we should be including them,” said Councillor Michael McManus.

Mr McManus said the precinct should also include a study centre for university and TAFE students.

Other locations, including the former Yass sale yards, the Goodradigbee Centre, the former Landmark building and Commercial Hotel, were also considered for the civic precinct.

“[However] council selected the current administration building site at 209 Comur Street due to its central location and available land,” said Mr Berry.

“The former sale yards are not in a central location in Yass, and the Goodradigbee site was considered to have limitations in terms of traffic and parking impacts.”

The former Landmark building and Commercial Hotel were considered too small for what council is proposing with the civic precinct, added Mr Berry.

Submissions from the community are invited in writing:

  • By completing an online form on Yass Valley Council’s website.
  • Posting your submission to PO Box 6, Yass, NSW 2582
  • Emailing to [email protected]

There will be further opportunities for community input during the project’s formal design phase.

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