Funds shortfall stalls project

An artist’s impression of the new Byron Bay Library.
An artist’s impression of the new Byron Bay Library.

A shortfall of almost $500,000 in funding is frustrating a start on the planned and long-awaited new $5.2 million Byron Bay Library.

Without full funding in place, Byron Council can’t call for tenders for the project and timelines for the project have had to be drastically revised.

There is now little chance of work starting on the library this year. Indeed, without full funding in place, it is impossible to set any dates.

The council is hoping to have the funding issue resolved by May or June and is pinning its hopes on grant applications to both the state and federal governments.

It is also looking at other fund-raising options, including donations from the community which are now, thanks to the Australian Tax Office, tax deductible.

A report on funding options is expected to go to councillors at the council’s April 22 meeting.

Under the latest revised timelines, tenders are due to be called in July.

After the council approved the development application for the library in August last year, mayor Cr Jan Barham said the council was aiming to ‘turn the first sod’ in early 2010.

 Last week she said she was disappointed with the delay.

Also disappointed were members of Friends of the Library, members of which have worked for years to get the project off the ground.

The group’s secretary, Jenny Coman, said members were ‘very unhappy’ about the delays.

“But the reality is we are half a million dollars short and the project can’t get off the ground until it is fully funded,” she said.

The site for the new library on the Sandhills Estate on the corner of Lawson and Middleton streets was the result of a land transfer agreement between the Arakwal Aboriginal people, the NSW Minister for Lands and the council.

The new library will meet multiple needs, including space for artists and craftspeople and a section for indigenous research.

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