The Narooma Community Hub is taking shape

Of late the community is learning of the patronage and legacies, big and small, of people like Walter Walker in Narooma who bequeathed his land to be a park for children and Ted Street who was the primary driving force and sponsor of our local public swimming pools in Narooma and Batemans Bay along with other equally generous community legacies such as Daisy Street House. Walker Park is now simply marked by a routed sign and the children gone however in recent weeks it has taken on a new spirit and the community have embraced it as theirs once more with grand ideas of a community garden. Ted Street’s legacies still stand and the man behind the civic generosity and the Streets Icecream name is honoured by two Paddle Pop shaped seats over-looking the swimming pool he helped to fund in Narooma. All too often though the ones like Walker and Street, who quietly made contribution to a community, without wanting any accolade, remain unknown to most and go without recognition or thanks until they have long gone. Let that not be the case for Colin and Christine Macauley of Dalmeny where we can share their generosity and vision today, in real time, and as it continues to unfurl.

Colin and Christine love Narooma and are involved in the local community; Christine as a member of the Montague Arts and Crafts Society and as co-manager of the Narooma Visitor Information Centre while Colin is active in attending to his retirement with plans of his own based around his love of classic motorcycles. What many are not aware of is that the Narooma Men’s Shed and now the Montague Arts and Craft Society share their headquarters on an industrial property in Glasshouse Rocks Road, Narooma owned by Colin and Christine. In 2011 -2012 the Macauley became aware, through articles in the Narooma News and in general discussion that the Narooma Men’s Shed did not have tenure on the location they first moved into. Without premises what seemed to many as a wonderful community initiative would be short lived. Colin who felt strongly that the Narooma Men’s Shed and the principles of these sheds performed a valuable service within the community. In 2012 it became apparent that Men’s Shed would not have a home in the foreseeable future. Colin made enquiries in the town as to who he might contact to offer a temporary solution. The block at 24 Glasshouse Rocks was vacant and available.

Ben Bate of Ben Bates Real Estate helped Colin to get in contact with the Lions Club, members of which were working hard to establish a Narooma Men’s Shed; particularly John Glover OAM, Rob Atkinson and June Sheard.

Discussions were held and a very happy Committee formed to establish the Men’s Shed at 24 Glasshouse Rocks Road. The initial lease with the Men’s Shed was for one year from 1/11/2012 to 31/10/2013 with an option to renew for a further year. The rental charged annually was zero and it was agreed Men’s Shed would pay all the rates and their own costs for water, sewerage and electricity. Rates at that time were $4,213.12 per annum.

The initial lease was to be reviewed for a further 12 months at $10,000 rent per year, plus outgoings, however this charge was waived to allow the Men’s Shed to get on their feet. As it now has been in subsequent renewals of the lease. Currently and until 31st October 2019 the Narooma Men’s Shed is charged at $1.00 per year plus outgoings for rates which are around $4,500 per year.

Colin and Christine have underwritten the Men’s Shed for the past 5 years and have given their word to do so until 31 Oct 2019; a total of seven years without rental income on this property. This equates to a donation from their own pockets and using valuations from 2010 rentals an amount of $158,774. Rentals have risen significantly since 2010 and the area has developed and a shortage of rental accommodation now exists. The true figure in today’s terms is more likely to be over $200,000. In that time the Narooma men’s Shed have been fortunate to gain grants that have helped develop their facility and the warmth, depth and purpose that the Shed now enjoys is a testament to the concept of Men’s Sheds across Australia.

In recent weeks the Narooma Men’s Shed have, with Colin and Christine’s permission, given a sublease to Montague Art and Craft Society (MACS) for $4,000 per annum which assists in paying Men’s Shed outgoings. Whilst the property remains in the ownership of the Macauleys they are unable to apply for a rebate on their rates as groups such as the Bay Players who do own their own properties are able to. However, irrespective of the full cost of rates the rental of overheads is a massive boost for our community groups. The Montague Arts and Craft Society have only just vacated their old cottage next to the Kinema and moved into the co-shared buildings where it is hoped that there will be a steady transition towards Christine’s vision.

Their VISION for the Future

Colin and Christine want to continue to be involved with both Macs and the Men’s Shed Group and have come up with a vision which plans to turn the block at Glasshouse Rocks Road into a Community Hub where they can offer, at discounted rates, accommodation to community groups who cannot afford to rent elsewhere.

The Community Hub will commence as from 2019 at the end of the current lease period. The groups included to be included in the Hub have not been finalised. The Narooma Men’s Shed have been offered a place which they may or may not decide to take up. MACS have also been offered a place with a lease direct to the owners. Both organisations have been made offers which are considerably less than commercial rates.

Colin’s retirement plan for his Man’s Cave with included display space for his own collections is part of that vision and his development application is awaiting approval. The new building will also include two additional toilets one of which is for the disabled and designed to be accessible from the outside of the building. The new building will allow more use of the block and better access to facilities for both men and women. The block itself allows level access to all buildings and doors are wide enough for wheel chairs. The Macauleys are looking forward to landscaping to give a pleasant entrance with flower and fruit trees lining the entrance.

The vision is to be a place for artisans and artists or as the more prosaic people put it hobby heaven somewhere they can gather for social interaction and to share their enthusiasm for their interests. Markets and craft displays are all part of the plans to make an exciting and welcoming Community Hub where something is going on all the time. The Montague Arts and Craft Society play an important role in the community with their many workshops in mozaics, fabrics and art classes. A kiln is soon to be purchased in the and new creative pursuits are always welcomed as the Society expands its membership and its role in the community by example of their very successful running of the Narooma Visitors Centre, under the leadership of MACS President Colin Berry and Vice President Christine Macauley.

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