A PLAN to build a new Mentone Activity Hub in Venice St has been put on hold amid concerns about its escalating cost.
Kingston Council had been set to rebuild the community building at 11a Venice St at a cost of about $1.38 million before the winner of the tender bid pulled out.
A revised plan costing the new building at more than $1.51 million was put to councillors at the latest public council meeting last month.
Councillors narrowly voted against proceeding with the Mentone Activity Hub construction until the Mentone Reserve master plan is finalised when the proposal could be reconsidered.
Two senior citizens groups, Probus Club and the Mentone-Mordialloc Arts Group were to be housed in the new Mentone Activity Hub.
The arts group has offered to pay $100,000 towards the construction of the new building.
Cr Ron Brownlees said the dropout of the original successful tenderer had “left us with a dilemma”.
“We had groups of people planning to depart from the existing building but suddenly they didn’t have a home because it wasn’t going to be ready in time,” he said.
He praised the arts group, who plan to sign a nine-year lease to occupy part of the new activity hub, for making a financial contribution to the project.
“It’s a fantastic contribution for a community group to offer to be part of the rebuilding of a community facility.”
Cr Rosemary West is concerned “council didn’t consider whether the seniors and the Mentone-Mordialloc Arts Group for whom this new building is designed could have been better accommodated in other buildings on the Mentone reserve”.
“I personally doubt whether this is a good use of ratepayers’ money when we already have a perfectly good activity hub in the form of the Brindisi St council building.”
Cr Steve Staikos said he also had concerns about council not exploring all options before making a commitment to spend about $1.5 million on a new building.
Cr Tamsin Bearsley said an arts group is not easy to accommodate due to the need to store artworks in progress and painting materials.
“They do life drawings so you need to be sensitive about who is walking in and out of the building,” she said.
The Old Granary Lane building in Mentone where the arts group holds its classes and exhibitions is due to be demolished.
Crs Bearsley, Brownlees and mayor Cr Geoff Gledhill voted to proceed with the $1.5 million refurbishment but crs Tamara Barth, David Eden, Staikos and West opposed the move.
Cr Paul Peulich had left the council chambers during the debate and Cr John Ronke was absent from the meeting.