Youth space doubled up

THIS time 12 months ago Bellingen youth dreamt of having a space, any space, to call their own – now they have two.

The first, at the old Telstra site, was preparing for a December 10 opening, and the second, the so-called William Street Youth Hub, was forging ahead with plans on the drawing board and 1.9 million of government infrastructure funding in the bank but no tenants as yet.

In his final interview, departing Bellingen Shire general manger Mike Colreavy said he had grave concerns about the council's capacity to maintain and manage the William Street facility, which has estimated annual operating costs of $30,000.

“It would seem sensible to combine the two, however, the council has chosen to support both facilities,” Mr Colreavy said.

Interviews have been held for a soon-to-be appointed project officer, who will develop the business model for the facility and co-ordinate its operation for 12 months, at a cost of $75,000.

According to Paul Tipper, spokesman for Youth to Adult (Y2A) – the partner organisation in the grant-winning application, it is not known how the two organisations will operate together.

“When the application was made there were only five grants nationwide and the chances of success were very slim, now we have both and we don't know exactly how the two will work,” Mr Tipper said.

“Certainly they will be complementary and not competing centres. But at this stage we don't know how the Telstra site will be running after six or eight months when the Hub opens . . . we don't even know if any kids will come!”

He was very clear, however, the Hub would not replace the Telstra site.

“We have an agreement with the council and whatever happens the Telstra site will remain a space given to Y2A for 20 years with the intention of using it for youth activities.”

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