Council in a spot over parking

By Casey Neill

The Dandenong Civic Centre car park has again sparked debate, this time over joining three spots in the coveted basement to an office space lease.
At the Monday 12 September Greater Dandenong Council meeting, councillors agreed to give public notice of the intention to lease office space on level five of the Lonsdale Street council headquarters.
The council included space to grow when it built the centre in 2012-13 and now intends to lease a 514 square metre space to RMBL Investments for five years.
Councillor Peter Brown said the space had been vacant for at least two years.
“It’s difficult to let spaces in Dandenong at the moment,” he said.
“We’re lucky we’ve got a good prospective tenant who wants to move in.”
But Cr Matthew Kirwan said he could not support the lease when it included providing the tenant with three car parking spaces in the basement.
Councillors debated a motion from Cr Brown to close the car park to the public at their Monday 8 August meeting.
“A month ago we decided to leave the basement car park open to the public during the week,” Cr Kirwan said.
“The underground car park was designed as a public park for those visiting the library, customer service, council meeting rooms and council chamber.
“We are in the process of coming up with better arrangements during the day to maximise usage.
“That was why we voted to keep it open – now we shouldn’t be whittling the number of car parks away.”
Cr Kirwan said the civic centre should have public car parking because it was a public building.
“I don’t support this lease as it is reduces the amount of car spaces for the public in their building,” he said.
“It also sets a precedent for what potential tenants will ask for when the VEC have finished using level four.
“Why can’t we lease the building on our own terms and offer the car parks that tenants need in our other council car parks in Thomas Street and Walker Street?
“Our own council staff use Thomas Street!”
Cr Jim Memeti said RMBL was prepared to pay $700,000 over five years to use the office space and parking spots.
“This will build one level of a multi-level car park,” he said.
“This council needs to build more parking.
“We need to think about the bottom line, and the bottom line is ratepayers’ money.”