New life for old building

November 24, 2011

The former Masonic Temple building began its third phase of its existence last Tuesday, when Richard Torbay, Member for Northern Tablelands, officially opened the Bingara Youth and Family Services Centre.

The building, built in 1904, was purchased by Council in April 2000, and became the Bingara Arts Centre. It has been used for art exhibitions, functions, was the venue for the North West Theatre Company’s first production, “Educating Rita”, and was the regular meeting place for the Community College’s Needlecraft group. The building is now home for the Bingara Toy Library and Bingara Youth and Family Services.

Mr. Torbay said Toy Library Coordinator, Tania Brennan, had worked to secure the funding needed to upgrade the building to accommodate the toy library.    Funding of $20,000 from the NSW Government was matched by the Gwydir Shire Council.

“Kristina Keneally, then Premier, granted the late funding from the Community Partnership Funding for 2010, after the application was initially rejected by the independent review panel,” Mr. Torbay said.

“The funding was used to transform the old Masonic Hall into a site-specific facility to provide children’s services to the community.“The Toy Library, led by Tania Brennan now spearheads a wonderful space for children in the Gwydir Shire community including playgroups, after school and school holiday activities, and of course, the toy library.”

Mr. Torbay acknowledged the work of Tania and her husband David, children Gabbie and Kurtis, and her parents, Bill and Jan Baldock, who all helped with the move from the toy library’s previous home in Maitland Street. “I am so impressed at the support given to the facility by Mayor John Coulton, his councillors and Council staff led by General Manager, Max Eastcott.

“I’m sure this facility will become a place that figures fondly in the childhood memories of tomorrow’s adults,” Mr. Torbay said.

The Gwydir Toy Library, Bingara Branch, currently has 38 members.

The Toy Library originally began in the Presbyterian Church hall then moved to the old Ritters building in Maitland Street.  The new facility has a playroom with new carpet and meeting rooms.

After school, a Youth worker holds sessions with older children on the Nintendo Wii.

The preschool visits on special occasions, with 14 to 16 children, and up to 10 mothers with young children meet to share experiences.