Building bind

At first glance the transportable buildings at Woorabinda reserve in Stirling Linear Park don’t look like much.
They are very old and tired and one of them has an asbestos roof and walls.
In a risk-adverse government landscape they must be sending off alarm bells in the Adelaide Hills Council.
It would be a simple enough decision to just knock them down and build something new for the many conservation volunteers and community groups that use the facilities.
The problem is the council doesn’t have the money to build a replacement or any concrete plans to source the money.
That leaves environmental volunteers with the very real fear that they will wake up one morning and the buildings will be demolished and the promise of a replacement structure will lead to nothing.
Something very similar happened in 2009 when the nearby sandstone cottage at Woorabinda was knocked down by the council – much to the surprise of park volunteers and in spite of a Woorabinda Working Group plan to renovate the building and recoup costs.
Nothing is there now, which is a loss to the community even if it is a saving to the council.
The remaining buildings at Woorabinda might not look like much but they do serve a practical purpose.
They have also had more than 4400 hours of volunteer labor invested into their upkeep since 1999 when Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA) began using one of them for Green Corp team training and other community groups became involved.
As one volunteer pointed out – when you’ve been outside weeding and planting, you don’t want a plush carpeted meeting room in which to gather.
The volunteers need somewhere to go to the toilet, wash their hands and perhaps heat up something to eat or drink.
They don’t need to be worrying about trekking mud into a building.
Most conservation volunteers would also be wary about spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a structure when that money could be put to better purpose in the environment.
If occupational health and safety and disability access regulations have to be complied with and the council feels it must take action, then a properly funded succession plan must be produced before any recommendation for “demolition” is approved.
As one volunteer pointed out at last week’s council meeting, four official review boards or committees have considered the future of the Woorabinda buildings in recent years, and have made recommendations on how to keep the structures for the community, but the council has largely ignored them.

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For the full report, see the print issue of The Courier.