By Cam Lucadou-Wells
A “long overdue” Dandenong Community Hub will bring a “heart” to the old town’s centre, its supporters say.
Mayor Jim Memeti, in a unanimously supported motion on 14 September, declared that “it is our turn” after similar hubs opened or planned in Noble Park, Dandenong North, Springvale and Keysborough South.
“Dandenong has facilities that are really ageing
“The almost 10-year paralysis that this Council has seen with regards to this project needs to end.”
Over the next nine months, $80,000 concept plans will be drawn for an “intergenerational” hub with childrens services, informal meeting spaces and activity spaces.
A possible location is the Clow Street precinct near the Dandenong Market and former council offices.
The building is expected to be of a similar scale to Keysborough South’s at a cost of about $10-15 million.
A feasibility study showed strong community support.
It would cater for a mix of ages in a growing Dandenong population, forecast to swell from 37,000 to 52,000 by 2030.
That includes children between 0-4 doubling to about 5000, and a similar number of residents over 65.
The council has also identified the need for a welcoming, supportive community place for young people, especially migrants. And to help them navigate education and employment pathways.
Dandenong Community Association member Silvia Mastrogiavanni says for years, Dandenong had a “dead centre”.
It had been “disjointed” between focal points such as Lonsdale Street, Dandenong Plaza and Dandenong Market.
The hub would be its new “heart”, Ms Mastrogiavanni said.
It was a “place of connection” for residents to “mix and mingle” and to meet “new friends”. Somewhere to learn a language, do a hobby, run an exercise or dance class.
“While we have this darned pandemic it’s illustrated why connection is so important to the human spirit and to our health.”
Cr Matthew Kirwan had steered through budget bids for the feasibity study and concept design in the past two years.
He said Cr Memeti’s motion ensured “a fully integrated, intergenerational hub” – and not a version that excludes childrens services.
“It is only when you put children’ services and informal and formal meeting activity spaces together do you get a true community heart, a place that the whole community calls home.”
“Having served Dandenong for eight years it is a great community but a fragmented community – we need to bring it together.”