Council backs off RSL buy

Council will retain an interest in what happens to the RSL building.

The future of the RSL building in Russell Street is less certain than ever this week after Snowy Valleys Council threw out a decision calling for a report into the purchase of the property for use as a community centre.

Cr Cate Cross successfully put through a rescission motion at yesterday’s council meeting, overturning a previous resolution that a report be prepared to investigate a council purchase.

Cr Cross put forward an alternate motion: that the council remain an interested party in the Tumut RSL building, a rather broad directive for council staff to follow.

Cr Geoff Pritchard last month argued the council should buy the building and turn it into a community centre, with an emphasis on youth services.

His fellow councillors agreed the council should explore the possibility.

Realtor Ray White Tumut subsequently indicated the property would be offered to the council exclusively in the first instance, and only placed on the open market should an agreement not be reached.

But Cr Cross said she had a number of concerns surrounding any purchase, including the ongoing costs and maintenance, the future use of the building and the prospect of the council competing against other commercial interests in a purchase.

There was not one word of debate on Cr Cross’s rescission at Thursday’s meeting, although Cr Prtichard questioned if the motion was in order.

Tumut’s disability services provider Valmar has also expressed interest in using the building.

Valmar, which now numbers more than 500 employees across southern NSW and the ACT, has properties in Tumut in Kirk Avenue and Capper Street.

Valmar CEO Hugh Packard said Valmar was considering whether the RSL building could be an option to house its services.

Valmar’s services span the disability, aged care and community transport sectors and the company is now among the biggest in Tumut, employing over 200 people in the Snowy Valleys Council area.

Mr Packard said Valmar continued to grow, in particular in the burgeoning aged care sector, and there was the opportunity for Valmar to expand even further afield than the area it already encompasses, which stretches from Griffith to Canberra.

With the service busy negotiating its way through the recently-introduced NDIS, Mr Packard admitted now was not the ideal time to be considering a major purchase.

But he noted the central location of the building, it’s size, and the fact it’s wheelchair accessible, were all attractions.

“We certainly wouldn’t need all of it,” Mr Packard said. “We obviously have no use for a couple of bowling greens and we wouldn’t need the auditorium.”

Mr Packard indicated Valmar may be interested in a joint venture with the council, whereby a range of community services was located there.

The building shut its doors in September of 2016, due to financial difficulties encountered by the RSL Club.

Club members have since merged with the Tumut Bowling Club.

However, the building is not owned by the club, but rather the Tumut RSL sub-branch.