12 July 2021

Tumut residents welcome $10 million for disaster safe place

| Edwina Mason
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Tumut residents

Tumut residents gathered at the local boys club during the fires, but it was filled to capacity. Photo: Snowy Valleys Council.

If you were looking for a safe port in any storm – Tumut Citizens Boys Club might be quite respectable. But there’s only so much space.

And it certainly proved its worth when fires hit in the summer of 2019-2020 acting as one of two mountain evacuation centres for residents fleeing the towns, villages and farms of the Snowy Mountains. The other being at Cooma.

But some 18 months after the fires comes the news the town is to receive $10 million for an emergency evacuation centre and multipurpose facility.

2019-2020 fires

The 2019-2020 fires tore through the pine forests on the western foothills of the Snowy Mountains with residents fending off ember attacks more than 20 kilometres ahead of the fronts. Photo: Tumut Rural Fire Service.

The dual-purpose project has been applauded by everyone impacted by the 2019-2020 bushfires, including Snowy Valleys mayor James Hayes, who says it will provide an indoor sports stadium which has sufficient capacity to double as an evacuation centre in times of emergency such as the recent bushfires.

When the town was under threat – the boys club was filled to capacity with residents spilling onto the street unable to hear the emergency briefings. The bowling club was the second port of call for residents forced to leave their homes.

“We hope never to see any facility used for those purposes again,” he said.

“But if we should ever be under threat we have a place where the community can gather safely whether that be for updates or for respite.

“This is a space designed to house people with some sort of dignity – where they can shower, rest,” he said.

“So many people can be helped.”

The community facility will also be used for conventions, conferences, schools, and community events, with hopes it will also attract regional and state sporting fixtures to the region.

“Council staff will be consulting further with community stakeholders and potential users of the facility as the concept designs are developed and refined,” Cr Hayes said.

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A number of projects across the Snowy Valleys LGA were successful in receiving $13.9 million in funding in the latest round of the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery program, jointly funded by the Federal and NSW governments.

“We lodged 11 separate applications for a variety of projects valued at approximately $68 million that we felt would be important economic stimulators in both the short and long term for the region,” Cr Hayes said.

Khancoban pool

Solar heating will make swimming more a year-round activity in Khancoban, which was the lucky recipient of a new pool in 2017. Photo: Snowy Valleys Council.

“To have successfully received almost $14 million for four key projects for Snowy Valleys to deliver important community infrastructure is very welcome news.”

Upgrades to community pools in Batlow, Tumut and Khancoban also attracted funding with the council receiving about $3.3 million for improvements to accessibility, baby and toddler facilities and amenities.

Batlow pool will get a $1.7 million facelift including new amenities, a wet deck for the toddler pool, a ramp into the main pool, a new baby pool with splash play area, shade structures and improved infrastructure.

Stage Two of the Tumut pool upgrades will improve swimming facilities for babies and young children with a splash play area and learn-to-swim pool.

The Khancoban pool will be fitted out with modern toilet and amenities and solar heating to improve water temperatures.

Funding was also provided for projects put forward by the community and industry with support from council:

  • $4 million for the creation of a Snowy Valleys Sculpture Trail;
  • $411,758 to make the Adelong Swinging Bridge safe for re-opening;
  • $1.9 million for a Regional Soft Woods Skills Development program;
  • $486,930 for Disaster Preparedness and Resilience projects; and
  • $2,735,765 to deliver new pack house technology for the Batlow fruit industry.

Cr Hayes described the funding announcement as opportune news for the Snowy Valleys.

“It delivers investment in improving community infrastructure and industry development, creates opportunities to increase tourism and employment, and support disaster preparedness in the region,” he said.

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