Building of gallery and library hub set to begin March

CONSTRUCTION of the new $15 million Gippsland Art Gallery and Sale Public Library cultural and community hub is expected to begin in March, with an anticipated completion in winter 2016.

The state government will contribute $4 million from its Regional Growth Fund, with an additional $750,000 provided through the Living Libraries Infrastructure program.

Local benefactor and supporter of the arts John Leslie will contribute a further $1 million, with Wellington Shire Council to fund the remaining $9.25 million of the $15 million project.

The new facility at the Port of Sale will include an expanded art gallery, library headquarters, offices, public meeting spaces, a central cafe, lounge area and free Wi-Fi.

The new art gallery, which itself will cost $8 million, will be expanded from 800 square metres to 1800 square metres, while a public library measuring 1300 square metres will be built.

The current library, shared with Sale College, measures 600 square metres.

Council is expected to appoint an architect in July, with construction set to begin in March.

The relocation of council’s offices to its recently purchased office block on the corner of Foster and Desailly Sts is part of the project.

Deputy Premier and Gippsland South MLA Peter Ryan said Gippsland Art Gallery currently had insufficient exhibition space, so its ability to host exhibitions was limited.

“The Sale Public Library, which is currently located at the Sale Secondary College, faces a similar situation,” he said.

“This new facility will provide both the art gallery and library with more room, with this new hub set to become a great new asset for the community.”

Mr Ryan said the project would generate about $27 million in total economic output.

Local Government Minister Tim Bull said the project would retain 29 existing jobs at both the art gallery and library, create 38 new construction jobs and generate more than 40 indirect jobs in Sale.

“Our libraries are at the very heart of our communities, with nearly half of all Victorians current members of their local library,” he said.

Wellington Shire mayor Scott Rossetti said residents had identified the Port of Sale as the preferred and most appropriate location for the new facilities.

He said council had contingency plans to ensure the art gallery remained in operation while construction of the new facility took place.

“Since launching our vision, we’ve asked our residents to have their say again, to ensure the high level of community support still exists for this project,” Cr Rossetti said.

“Overwhelmingly, around 90 per cent of the responses we’ve received have confirmed the community agrees with our vision and can’t wait to see us get started.”

Cr Rossetti said the facility would be useful for people undertaking study, particularly those who had difficulty accessing their university libraries.

“The facilities will be excellent,” he said.

“The views from the mayor’s office are excellent; the mayor will lose it, the community will gain it.”