Centre lacks basic amenities

THE general manager of the Casino Neighbourhood Centre has gone on the attack over stalled negotiations with the Richmond Valley Council regarding the centre's possible tenancy of the Casino Community and Cultural Centre.

Noeline Olive has claimed Richmond Valley Council has shirked its responsibilities to install basic amenities on the top floor of the building which was to house the Neighbourhood Centre.

And she's received support from Federal Page MP Janelle Saffin who helped secure the $3.3 million to fund construction of the community centre.

Frustrated by a lack of progress in the negotiations, the council decided last week to look elsewhere for a tenant.

Mayor Col Sullivan said the Neighbourhood Centre had asked for more than the council was willing to give in fitting out the space.

And he said interest in renting the space for commercial purposes had previously been expressed.

But Mrs Olive said the Neighbourhood Centre made their requirements of the space clear to the council before the centre was built and that a grant of $250,000 it received to fit it out was never intended to be spent on basic amenities.

"The area we were to go into, there is nothing there, there is a cement floor, there is no ceiling, there is no electricity, no air-conditioning and no amenities of any description," Mrs Olive said.

"We can't move into a building that has no amenities - we are bringing 17 staff and 12 services.

"I think it is a reasonable request that essential amenities are there.

"I believe a landlord should be providing three main essential items - air conditioning, electricity and amenities.

"There was no document that said anything about amenities, it was the fit out, that is what we have been succesful in gaining (a grant for)."

Ms Saffin agreed. She said she did not expect the community centre to be used for commercial purposes and that installing basic infrastructure such as toilets should not be the responsibility of a tenant of the space.

Mrs Olive said the Neighbourhood Centre was trying to work through the issues with the council but did not have "money to pull out of the air" to fund the installation of basic amenities.

She also said the council had known since negotiations began in 2005 that the not-for-profit Neighbourhood Centre was not in a position to pay commercial rent.

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