By Claire Ottaviano
A SWAN Valley group are calling for a halt on a proposed sale of land in Middle Swan which they say could be used for a cultural and community hub.
Led by Middle Swan businessman Joe Tassone and art studio owner Antonio Battistessa, the group of business owners, residents, farmers, veterinarians and artists want to see 80 acres of land at Lot 800 Toodyay Road preserved and used for an all-in-one-hub that could encompass arts and cultural spaces, a museum and tourism office.
“My interest in this project stemmed from the lack of facilities in the Valley,” Mr Tassone said.
“One of the biggest ones we need is something for the arts.
“This month Margaret River are holding a huge art festival where more than 100 local artists are exhibiting – we don’t have anything like that here.”
As well as an arts centre, a museum would also showcase the area’s history.
“The fisheries down in Freo have the mariners museum, Westrail have the Railway Museum in Bassendean.
“We feel something is needed to showcase the blood, sweat and tears the old timers put into building this place by hand.”
Mr Tassone said the progressing EastLink WA project, adjacent to the proposed site, would also be a convenient place for a new visitor’s centre and could even be an evacuation point during bushfires.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” he said.
“All we’re saying is don’t sell the land yet, what gets built on it is something to consider down the track.”
Swan Hills MLA Jessica Shaw met with the group last Friday.
“I think it’s a wonderful idea, I really do, it would be lovely to have some sort of iconic visitor’s centre or cultural centre in the Swan Valley and I’m very happy to see what can be done to explore that idea,” she said.
“As I said to those folk, I do like the idea but these things need to be paid for and we need to have a clear idea of what the ‘it’ is, where is it to be located, how big would it be, who would run it and who’s going to pay for it.
“It is a long way to go yet.”
She said over the past several years many people had been in contact with similar ideas at locations around the Swan Valley.
“There’s a long way to go to understanding what land is available and what’s possible to do or repurpose what we have,” she said.
“A feasibility study would wash out all those answers, what do you want to do, then understand what sort of land we need and what plots of land fit the bill.
“It’s a bit premature to suggest that site, at this stage I don’t support any site in particular without consulting with the community first.”
Echo News understands the land is currently under the authority of the Department of Communities, but was not able to confirm future development plans for the site before deadline.