Zac Buckley, 4, of Alstonville gets a look at the new Alstonville Community Pre-school playground being built with Ballina RSL CEO Bill Coulter, and pre-school president Katherine Buckley and pre-school director Narelle Walker. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star
Zac Buckley, 4, of Alstonville gets a look at the new Alstonville Community Pre-school playground being built with Ballina RSL CEO Bill Coulter, and pre-school president Katherine Buckley and pre-school director Narelle Walker. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star Marc Stapelberg

Ballina RSL donates $10k to Alstonville preschool

ALSTONVILLE Community Preschool is a step closer to opening following a $10,000 donation from Ballina RSL club towards a children's playground.

President Katherine Buckley said costs on the $670,000 project blew out by $58,000 due to an application for funding being lodged with the NSW Education Department before the land at the Crawford Park site was recategorised.

Cost blow out

"None of the reclassification or development application processes had been gone through; it was just done based on concept design," she said.

"Since those processes have been gone through, those elements of the project have left us about $58,000 short.

"So the money we had saved for the outdoor playground we had to put toward these processes.

"It's fantastic that we have heard from Ballina RSL today that they were able to help us with $10,000 of funding.

Partnership program

Through the preschool's community partnership program, Mrs Buckley said additional funding was sought.

The preschool fundraising committee then approached Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan and Ballina state MP Tamara Smith to try and secure grant funding to build the playground.

Ms Smith addressed NSW Parliament about the funding shortfall in September.

"Unfortunately those grant programs weren't going to be available in our timeframe," Mrs Buckley said.

"Kevin Hogan put us in contact with Nationals MLC Ben Franklin who helped organise a meeting with Ballina RSL last week."

RSL donation

Ballina RSL CEO Bill Coulter said that the club's donation should encourage others in the local area to "chip in" and get involved.

"Something needed to be done so that Alstonville Community Preschool can be ready to open its doors to parents and families come 2016," he said.

"The volunteers have dedicated endless hours of hard work to get this project over the line and it's going to be a great community asset.

"We know it will be a facility our members and local community will value, and we look forward to working closely with the school and in the future."

Opening in February 2016

There was no other option than for the preschool to open in February 2016, Mrs Buckley said.

"We need to go through a licensing process which will happen in January," she said.

"So realistically we have to be finishing the build by the end of this year to go through the licensing process."

Mrs Buckley said the preschool was unable to continue to use their temporary premises at Amaze'n'Place.

"We are nearly fully enrolled for next year so we have to open next year," she said.

"We have been raising money for what we need to meet regulation, so the fence, grass and some other basic necessities.

"We have contingency plans in place for this because not finishing the build in December is not an option."

After five years of fundraising, Mrs Buckley said the preschool committee hoped to raise the $48,000 shortfall through the community.

To donate to Alstonville Community Preschool call 6628 0822 or Mrs Buckley on 0420 514 007.



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