Changes are afoot for Blackheath Community Hall

Committee members: Elizabeth Giddey, Christine Wheeler and Henry Lebovic

In mid-January the Blackheath Rhododendron Festival Committee put the word out to other local community organisations and businesses that we had a now-or-never opportunity to upgrade the power supply at Blackheath Community Centre, for the relatively small sum of $10,000. The upgrade is a necessary precondition for the installation of electrical heating and cooling. If this work is not completed by the end of March, we would need to reapply for permission from the energy supplier and the cost could escalate to hundreds of thousands.

Thanks to the outstanding generosity of a number of Blackheath not-for-profit groups, businesses and individuals, what seemed like a tall order 3 weeks ago is now a done deal. With contributions already in the bank and others on promise, we will reach the target. The work is booked to take place on Friday 24 February. On behalf of the coalition of the Rhodo Festival, BANC and the Hall Committee, I can only say wow and thank you! A more public acknowledgement of your support will be forthcoming in the near future. 

Now to some even more exciting news. 

The board of Blackheath Area Neighbourhood Centre (BANC) has for several years been applying for grants to pay for significant upgrades to our community centre that is such an important resource in our small town. You will have noticed the 98 solar panels that were installed on the Centre roof in June last year – these were paid for by a very generous grant from Bendigo Bank Foundation to BANC to carry out the work. 

We are delighted to report that our application to the NSW state government fund, WestInvest, for $772,000, has been successful. The work that will be covered by this grant includes:

  1. Energy-efficient electric reverse-cycle heating/cooling systems replacing unflued, old and failing LPG heating. 
  2. A professional-standard sound, lighting and projection system.
  3. Theatre-style drapes for improved acoustics and energy efficiency.
  4. Sealing of gaps around doors and windows to minimise noise intrusion from external sources, heat and cooling losses.
  5. Energy-efficient and user-friendly lighting throughout both halls within the Centre
  6. 100+ kw hrs of battery backup for the power generated by the solar panels.
  7. Water tanks to provide a water source for use in bushfire defence.

The vision for the project, developed by BANC in collaboration with other major users of the Centre and following consultations with the community generally, is to establish BCC as a fully functional multipurpose arts, cultural and community facility that will deliver value to our town for decades. 

Community members and audiences will have the benefit of reliable heating and cooling and improved light and sound quality. With improved acoustics, the versatility of Phillips hall for workshops and small group activities will be increased. All of the improvements will contribute to our community effort to mitigate the impacts of climate change through greater use of renewable energy and reduced power needs overall. 

Local resident Rick Harris has generously offered his services as project manager free of charge. With decades of project management experience behind him, we are thrilled to have Rick on board.

For further information about the project to transform Blackheath Community Centre, please contact Leah Godfrey gm@banc.org.au

Christine Wheeler

BANC Board

About Lis Bastian

Lis Bastian is the Senior Lead for Blue Mountains City Council’s Planetary Health Initiative. She is the editor of the Local News Platforms and has been a writer, editor, news presenter and teacher/lecturer covering both cultural and environmental issues for over 30 years. She has been pioneering Solutions/Constructive Journalism in Australia since 2012.