Community to consider options for former Meander School site

Posted on May 27, 2021

Council is heading “back to school” and will ask the Meander community to help decide the future of the former Meander Primary School site.

Council is heading “back to school” and will ask the Meander community to help decide the future of the former Meander Primary School site.

To give the broadest possible options for the use of the site Council has requested the State Government relax the restrictions imposed on the former school which limit how the site may be used.

“With restrictions relaxed, we have a better chance of putting in place a long term tenant whose activities are acceptable to the community” Mayor Johnston said.

While the election has delayed a decision by the State Government, Council is expecting to receive a favourable outcome and is keen to get on with deciding the future of the site.

“We do not want the site vacant for any longer than necessary and we will be moving ahead to start the process that will decide the long term use of the site.

“Councillors are committed to working with the community and a process that first calls for proposals is being suggested. From there, representatives from community organisations active in Meander will help shortlist proposals ahead of any decision by Council,” Mayor Wayne Johnston said.

Councillors will also be active in seeking the broader views of people in Meander.

“While we may not find a solution that aligns with every individual’s views perfectly, we will be working hard to determine the qualities, attributes and future management scenarios that will have broader community support and are self-sustaining,” Mayor Johnston said.

As the first step, Council will be working to establish a community focus group to help shortlist proposals that demonstrate a clear community benefit and means to fund the refurbishment, maintenance and ongoing operation of the site.

Councillors will also be writing to residents asking them for their views on what should be addressed in the request for proposals and, explaining the steps to decide the long term use of the site.

‘We want to get it right for the long term so we think consultation, decision making and lease negotiations will take until the end of this year. It is anticipated that the community focus group will be formed by the end of July with Council calling for expressions of interest from July through to October,” Mayor Johnston said.

In the meantime, Council has granted Deloraine High School short term access to the site to run a pilot education program focused on improving the engagement of students from across Meander Valley.

Deloraine High School principal David Lietzau said he is grateful for the opportunity to provide students with a diverse educational experience that will also incorporate some practical learning as the students undertake some of the basic maintenance tasks required on the old school site.

“The old school means a lot to us and to the students who will participate in the pilot program. This will help ensure it remains an active space while long term decisions are made,” Mayor Johnston said.

The pilot program will cover two school terms, concluding in December this year.

We understand that there are strong and diverse views about the use of the site, but we want to bring the community together, to work towards consensus and to explore all the possibilities the old Meander Primary School offers us,” Mayor Johnston said.