WILLAURA Memorial Hall is set to receive a $350,000 upgrade which will improve accessibility to the 62 year old building.
The redevelopment will include new male, female and accessible toilets, a baby change facility, a fully accessible ramp to the front of the building and new wiring.
The upgrade is being fully funded by Ararat Rural City Council and is part of its 2017-21 council plan.
Construction is set to begin on October 29 and the hall will be closed for the following six months, but Committee of Management secretary Ron Jenkinson said the upgrades will be worth the wait.
“The men’s toilets are pretty dingy but we’ll get some new ladies and gents toilets which will be up to current health standards and very user friendly,” he said.
“There will be a space for the caretaker to store all the gear instead of in stairwells … and the ladies toilets, they’ll be gutted and that will then become storage space for chairs and tables and things like that.
“It’s going to give everyone in the community and wider area a place to come that’s pleasant and enjoyable,” he said.
Mr Jenkinson said the hall formed a central part of community life in Willaura and surrounding areas, with several community events and live entertainment shows held each year.
“We had a production last year with the Basil Fawlty (cabaret show) … and we have another production next year once this upgrade is finished,” he said.
“We’re trying to make the hall a bit more friendly for this type of function.”
The wiring in the hall was overdue for an upgrade too.
“The (hall was) built in 1957 and the most aggressive piece of electrical equipment you plugged in then was an urn for the hot water,” Mr Jenkinson said.
“Now you’ve got bain-maries and people come and cater there and it’s very heavy on the power, and to run the air conditioning too, the demand on the power was past what it was capable of.”
The design and planning phase was completed by June this year and Ararat Rural City Council recently awarded the tender for the redevelopment to local contractor Andrew Eastick Homes.
Ararat Rural City Council mayor, Councillor Gwenda Allgood said upgrades to the Willaura Hall were one of the main highlights in this year’s Council Plan.
“Council is proud to continue to invest in our rural towns in key facilities like community halls,” she said.
“The Hall will be out of action for at least six months while works are being carried out, but it will be worthwhile in the long run and I’m sure the community will be very patient and understanding during this time.”
The project group – consisting of members from the Hall Committee, Council officers and the architect – have met regularly over the course of the last 12 months to bring the plans for this project to fruition.
The Committee of Management will continue to meet Andrew Eastick regularly over the course of the construction period.