A 10,000 square metre facility is in the cards for Inverell, after a group of passionate locals have asked the council to consider a proposed New England Museum Cultural and Exhibition Centre.
National Transport Museum chairman Kevin Dunn gave a presentation on the financial viability of the project at the Civil and Environmental Services Committee meeting on Wednesday morning.
To be constructed behind the Transport Museum, overlooking the Macintyre River, the proposed building would host many of the existing museum’s non-vehicle related exhibits, as well as other cultural artifacts.
“It could possibly be viewed as an extension, but it will be a completely separate building. We would like to think that it’s more along the lines of a mini Powerhouse museum,” Mr Dunn said.
“All you need is a fertile imagination to say what you could put into this building and what you could benefit from.” He said the space could also function as a concert venue, a conference centre, theatre, and due to its location above flood level, an evacuation centre.
“It could be home to our local community radio station STA FM, which have their emergency broadcast licence, so that they would not be affected by the flood.”
Over twice the size of the Transport Museum, the centre would be covered in solar panels to offset the costs. It would be climate controlled to protect the exhibits, and have open decks on the sides which may cater to al fresco dining.
Estimated figures have not yet been released, as the group hopes the council will assist in having the site (which is on Shire land) surveyed, provide a draftsman to draw up the plans and a geotechnical engineer to assess possible foundations; giving more accurate information on the likely costs.
“It will be quite a cost, but I’ve been advised not to get too excited about something like that, because if it’s worthwhile, the funds will be granted,” Mr Dunn said.
“There’s never been a better time for Inverell to apply, with the drought proofing and infrastructure funds that are going out. We will never have this opportunity again, not in the foreseeable future.”
In the council’s September general meeting, it was decided that the concept had merit, but additional details, including concept plans, estimated capital budgeted and a projected operating budget were necessary before the council could respond. No further recommendations were made in Wednesday’s meeting.