One year later and some community groups are becoming increasingly frustrated
It has been exactly one year since the Kelly Park community in Werribee was shattered by a devastating fire that engulfed their beloved community centre on Synnot Street. The fire, which broke out on June 26, 2022, caused extensive damage to the roof and kitchen area, leaving community groups in dismay.
One of the affected groups, the Square Dance Club, has been anxiously awaiting the repairs, hoping to regain the comfort and familiarity of their dancing hall, which they have cherished for over 30 years. In the absence of their regular venue, the club’s caller, Howard Cockburn, and his wife Brenda, have gone to great lengths to find suitable temporary locations, even resorting to dancing in garages.
Reflecting on the situation, a member of the Square Dance Club stated, “We have been dancing in this hall for over 30 years, and I knew we were going to miss the comfort and familiarity of this hall for a while. But we all thought ‘it’s temporary’ and we will be back as soon as the council makes their findings and repairs will start.”
Unfortunately, as months passed, the community’s hopes were met with frustration. Numerous inquiries were made regarding the repairs, but the council’s responses have been vague and uninformative. The lack of progress prompted the Square Dance Club to send a letter seeking answers, only to receive no concrete information.
A fellow dancer from the club, who is also a member of Probus, another group that utilizes the hall, shared their disappointment, saying, “Council was also contacted to have a meeting with the Mayor. Council responded to the Square Dance Club on May 3rd, 2023, to say, Council is still exploring options for the future of the Centre and at this stage no decision has been made.”
Seeking clarity, Wyndham TV reached out to the council, and a spokesperson provided an update, saying, “Since that time, the building has been undergoing assessments for structure and asbestos for insurance purposes. Upon receipt of a final insurance assessment, Council will determine the next steps for this building. This is anticipated to occur in the coming months. In the meantime, Council will continue to support Kelly Park user groups to use suitable alternative facilities.”
Council have provided the Central Park Community Centre in Hoppers Crossing as an alternative solution although members say that amidst several other rooms utilized by various groups, they only have a small area and are still eagerly looking forward to returning to Kelly Park hall, which is better suited for their specific activities.
As the community reflects on the one-year anniversary of the fire, the Kelly Park Community Centre users remain hopeful that the council will expedite the repairs and restore their cherished community centre. They eagerly anticipate the final insurance assessment, which will pave the way for informed decisions and necessary actions to be taken.