EDITORIAL: Band has right to sound off
WODONGA Citizens Band wants to stay in the city centre when it is soon booted from its Hovell Street home.
The band must move from its headquarters since 1967 to allow the extension of South Street to Havelock Street to be built.
But the band and the Wodonga Council are butting heads on a new home.
The band has rejected seven options the council has proposed, including Silva Drive pre-school, Felltimber community centre and the Baranduda Hall.
The band was this month handed a formal notice that it must leave Hovell Street in the next year.
Band president Ron Mildren said there was ample Crown land in central Wodonga for a multipurpose venue to house the Albury-Wodonga Theatre Company and the men’s shed.
“Wodonga Citizens Band is not averse to making way for genuine progress and wider community benefit,” Mr Mildren said.
“It appears the Wodonga Council may have been systematically and methodically removing not-for-profit and other community groups out of the central activity area,” he said.
“This is being done in the name of commercial redevelopment of the city centre.
“The band is just another not-for-profit group the council is seeking to evict from Crown land and banish to the outskirts.”
Mr Mildren said the building it proposed would not compete with the council-owned The Cube, but would provide a valuable low-cost meeting centre, community music and theatre resource.
Wodonga chief executive Patience Harrington said the council had discussed the redevelopment of the city centre, including rezoning and relocation options, with the band for more than 10 years.
She said the land the band wanted for a new home was state-owned and not under the council’s control.
The council would continue to work with the band to find a suitable site.
“The council is aware of strong community support the band enjoys and its contribution to our city’s cultural offering,” she said.
“The council looks at multipurpose facilities when it constructs infrastructure because this is a wise use of ratepayers’ money.
“Since the original agreement was reached with the band in the 1960s, our city has grown at a rapid rate.
“The removal of the railway line has been a catalyst for several projects, which include developments such as Quest Apartments, Huon Hill tavern and Junction Place.”