MAYOR Jason Hamling’s plan to have a temporary indoor playground operational for this winter became a reality this week with unanimous support at the Orange City Council meeting.
Council staff will now issue a call for expressions of interest to manage the facility after Tuesday’s meeting decided to secure a site for a period of four months from May 1 and guarantee equipment hire .
While giving him full approval at the end, several councilors raised their concerns with Cr Jack Evans asking for an amendment to stop the council from renting equipment, which was rejected, while Cr Tony Mileto was also concerned about finances.
We plan to contribute $7,500 per week plus rent, or $9,000 per week. That’s about $150,000 to $160,000 a year. The amount we spend is what we will spend on trails next year.
Cr Tony Mileto
Cr Frances Kinghorne also raised the possible impact a council-run facility can have on anyone trying to establish a private indoor play centre.
However, Cr Hamling said the indoor playground was meant to provide a service.
“People need to understand that we’re not trying to build a business here, we’re trying to build something for this winter,” he said Wednesday.
“We’re not trying to compete with anyone, far from it, hopefully a private company will come out of the woodwork and hopefully the Council can help them open up and then we’ll close ours. “
Cr Mel McDonell, Cr David Mallard and Deputy Mayor Gerald Power said the playground was what the community wanted, conveyed not just by the local government election process in December, but by polls and community consultations across the framework of the community strategic plan currently being drafted.
“If you look at the data, Orange’s growth is in young families,” Cr Power said.
“We have to make sure it gets done.”
Cr Mileto said he felt detailed information was needed, first on the availability of a four month lease and then on the cost of running the center for four months.
“We’re looking at contributing $7,500 a week plus rent, or $9,000 a week,” he said. “That’s about $150,000 to $160,000 a year. The amount we’re spending is what we’ll be spending on the trails next year.
“Do we give it up and wait until next year when the commercial operators take over?”
Director of Community, Recreation and Cultural Services Scott Maunder told the meeting that there was commercial interest in setting up an indoor play facility, but it was unlikely to be operational at weather for this winter.
He also said that more information would be provided once the EOIs were received.
Cr Hamling said providing the indoor play area was not just about the children and he added that providing the service was part of living in a community.
“It’s not just about kids on playground equipment, it’s about moms stuck at home with their kids getting to hang out and socialize with other moms.
“It’s also about their well-being.”
“Everything costs money, as advice we provide a service.
“It’s part of living together.”
Cr Hamling said council staff would come up with a model for the installation after the EOI is finalized.
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