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The future of the old Beechworth Railway Station is back in limbo after the Australian Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship pulled out of its redevelopment.
Now Indigo councillors are hoping another group will be keen to snap up the opportunity to use the space.
They had voted on September 13 to lease the land to ACRE, but just weeks later that had all changed.
Councillors refrained from making any negative comments at Tuesday’s meeting, but a report from council officers revealed that frustration remained.
“Following months of negotiation and work to develop a lease, ACRE in September 2017 withdrew their application for the site,” it stated.
ACRE chief executive Matt Pfahlert said the decision to withdraw from the project came after personal and professional attacks directed at the ACRE team from the public last year and uncertainty about the support from councillors.
“We want young people and innovators with new or bold ideas to be encouraged to raise them in our community and they won’t if they witnessed our experience of last year,” he said.
“We are raising this because we would like to see this type of innovation considered in a context of respectful discussion and debate.
“If the way we engage and discuss bold ideas doesn’t improve, we fear this community may miss out on more initiatives as both investors and innovators may take them somewhere else.”
Mr Pfahlert said he was disappointed to make the decision, because the organisation had put in a lot of work.
Cr Barb Murdoch told the Indigo Council meeting she wanted to see new applicants put their names forward.
“It’s time we leased this building out because like all towns we have a shortage of space for the community to use and this will hopefully be well sought after,” she said.
Indigo acting chief executive Greg Pinkerton revealed the lease would only include the railway station building.
“At the moment, the Goods Shed isn’t in a state that would be suitable for community use and it was felt the inclusion of that into the expressions of interest process would put off a community group, in that they wouldn’t necessarily have the capital or the ability to do anything with that Goods Shed,” he said.
“If in the future we are able to activate that Goods Shed, we’d be very pleased to progress that as well, but at the moment it’s more a liability than an asset.”
Councillors will consider any applicants and pick their preferred application at a future meeting before the plans are put out to the community for comment.
This article first appeared on www.bordermail.com.au
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