Rebirth nears for Edwards Square community centre
Murray Bridge Community Centre's operators plan to revitalise and reopen a prominent building, to the benefit of local people.
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An under-used building in the heart of Murray Bridge would become a vibrant community hub under a plan being considered by the city’s council.
The Edwards Square community centre has been vacant since last May, other than a brief period when it was used as an early voting centre for the recent state election.
Now the organisation which runs Murray Bridge Community Centre plans to move in, refurbish the building and use it to host regular workshops, events and projects.
The community centre’s current building – tucked away on Beatty Terrace – will remain open as a drop-in centre, too, so people will still be able to pick up free bread, use the shower and laundry facilities, visit the community garden and so on.
But the much bigger space on Edwards Square would allow the organisation to host larger groups and offer new services to more locals, finance and administration officer Sarah Smith said.
“The vision is to expand and continue the services we’re providing currently,” she said.
“There’s services we’re running through the centre that are a bit squeezy.
“This (new building) will offer us more space to bring more organisations and community support into Murray Bridge.”
Organisations such as Relationships Australia, Rent Right SA, Skylight, the Legal Services Commission and Carers SA, among many others, regularly run programs or provide services to locals at the Beatty Terrace centre.
The smaller centre also hosts everything from art and craft groups to writing workshops, men’s barbecues, a cafe afternoon for people living with dementia, and training courses in hospitality and digital literacy, as well as serving as a haven for women escaping domestic violence.
Community development officer Jade Porter said she was excited to see what could be done at the Edwards Square centre.
“It’ll be great to see that space come alive,” she said.
‘They’re the right people’ for the building, mayor says
Murray Bridge’s councillors provisionally approved the plan at their March meeting, pending public consultation.
Council CEO Michael Sedgman acknowledged that several other organisations had expressed an interest in the centre, but only one had submitted a tender in the end.
Still, the community centre would be able to manage the building and hire it out to other groups for meetings or community programs, he suggested.
Mayor Brenton Lewis described Murray Bridge Community Centre as “a very tidy unit” which produced great outcomes in the community.
“I think they’re a good organisation and, as the chief executive has said, (this) doesn’t mean it’s a closed shop,” he said.
“As approaches come for community benefit ... we’ll encourage them to get involved and get on board.
“The facility currently is closed, and we’ve got a community organisation that has stepped up and wants to expand – there’s stuff-all facilities where they are – so it all makes sense.”
The council plans to grant a five-year lease over the building, with a right to renew for another five years, so long as no-one objects before next Thursday, April 14.
The Edwards Square centre had previously been occupied by Murray Bridge Senior Citizens Club since its completion in 1979.
Have your say: Complete the survey at letstalk.murraybridge.sa.gov.au/edwards-square-community-centre-copy or write to the Rural City of Murray Bridge, PO Box 421, Murray Bridge SA 5253 by 3pm next Thursday.
More information about the public consultation: Call Sue Reynolds at the Rural City of Murray Bridge on 8539 1406.
More information about Murray Bridge Community Centre: murraybridgecommunitycentre.com.au.
Disclosure: The author is a Murray Bridge Community Centre board member.
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