BENDIGO federal MP Steve Gibbons believes a proposal to establish a commission for historic Bendigo site Fortuna Villa has merit.
Mr Gibbons said he would raise Daryl McClure and Goldmines Hotel owner Rick Walduck's proposal with relevant ministers, including Special Minister of State Gary Gray and Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Senator David Feeney, at next week’s parliamentary sitting.
He said if the state and City of Greater Bendigo council could show the federal government they were committed to the plan, he would have a good case to procure the land for the commission at a cut price or for free.
“The concept of a state-based ‘Fortuna Commission’ to administer the development of the property has merit," he said.
“If the state government is prepared to establish a Fortuna Commission…and the City of Greater Bendigo is prepared to donate a sum equal to the rates from each of any new residential properties for a period of 10 years… then I think we could make a strong case for a heavily discounted Commonwealth valuation of the property.”
ALL levels of government were encouraged to get on board with community plans for Fortuna Villa at last night’s Greater Bendigo City council meeting.
But councillors were hesitant to endorse any particular proposal for the historic site.
Last week former mayor Daryl McClure and Goldmines Hotel owner Rick Walduck presented a proposal to council for a new residential development at the site of the 60-room mansion.
The proposal suggests the formation of the Fortuna Commission to oversee 40 residences developed on the southern side of the property near barracks built in the 1960s.
A further 200 lots would be built on 14 hectares of surrounding Crown land near Chum Street.
The proposal also suggests rates collected from the properties for the first 10 years should be donated by the council to the Fortuna Commission fund.
Mr McClure said the capital raised by the properties and the rates – estimated to be about $32 million – would then be invested to maintain the estate for the public perpetually.
But last night Cr Rod Fyffe said there were other proposals besides that of Mr McClure’s and Mr Walduck’s that had to be considered.
“We have to look at all the options in keeping this magnificent building open,” he said.
Cr Fyffe said Fortuna was a “really really important part of our heritage” which needed to be kept in public ownership.
“We need to have a major say in what happens to that facility,” he said.
“The last thing I want is for it to fall into decay. “We need to generate an income in order to maintain it.
“We need it to be known, to be used by the public, to have something happening there every day so people have a reason to go there.”