STANLEY RURAL COMMUNITY INC.

Community Meeting

On the afternoon of Sunday, 4th March 2012, SRCI held a Community meeting in the Stanley Hall to bring Stanley residents up to date with progress made regarding the establishment of a permanent Stanley Post Office since the last such meeting in June 2011.  In all, 41 people turned up, comprising a fair cross-section of Stanley residents, plus Councillor Bernard Gaffney, who has consistently shown great support for Stanley.

Once the formalities were over – such as confirmation of SRCI’s healthy financial situation – a total of $28,837.14 in the bank as at 29th February 2012 (during the eight months since June a total of just over $24,300.00 had been received in three separate grants for obtaining equipment etc., not all  of which has yet been spent) and a minor change to SRCI’s rules (providing for an increase in the Committee size from six to eight members) – the President and other Committee members presented an overall report on the successful first year of the temporary Post Office.

The temporary Post Office has proved a welcoming meeting-place for residents to socialise a little.  Volunteers continue to contribute their invaluable help towards staffing the Post Office, so that, quite apart from providing mail services, newspapers, ice-creams, UHT milk, bread and lollies are available seven days a week.  Without this core team of volunteers, the operation would not be possible.  Australia Post business has generated some $10,000 over the year (against an initial estimate of $12,000), making it clear that a complementary activity such as a general store and/or a cafe or coffee shop is necessary, because the Post Office alone is not a viable business proposition in the longer term.

Asked if Stanley still wants and needs a Post Office, the response from those present at the meeting was a resounding ‘YES’!

Further investigation to ascertain the availability of a suitable permanent Post Office site has been actively pursued over the past nine months by SRCI with Council.  The latter has undertaken, as part of its Rural Land Use Strategy, begun in 2009, to review Stanley’s current zoning as ‘Farming’ (it being clear that some change will be necessary for a permanent Post Office to be established).  Readers will recall a

Community Forum in the Hall on 14th February when Council’s Planning Manager outlined the procedure that would be followed when such changes are proposed i.e. extensive consultation with residents, so that nothing will happen in a hurry.

A little background may be helpful here to remind readers of the history involved.

The former Post Office abruptly closed at the end of December 2010, coincidentally just two months after the incorporation of SRCI, which was thus well placed to become Stanley’s ‘voice’ in presenting the community’s wish to have its Post Office services restored.  This was achieved within three months, a remarkable feat in anyone’s book.  Some nine sites were identified at that time as possible locations for the new Post Office, with the current ‘site-office’ portable building finally being chosen.  Council gave approval for it to operate as a roadside business for a year, while efforts continued to establish a permanent site.

Now, some twelve months later, SRCI has narrowed the field to four possible locations, none of which offers a simple choice, so it is fortunate that Council has renewed SRCI’s licence to operate for a further year until 24 February 2013, while efforts are redoubled to find a permanent solution.

– Two sites, the former General store/Post Office and the former Presbyterian Church, may become available for sale.  Each, however, would require considerable funding for acquisition to be contemplated.

– A third, the new pavilion in the Stanley Recreation Reserve, may possibly offer the opportunity of a ‘friendly’ lease from its Committee of Management on behalf of the Crown Land division of the DSE, but presents significant space and other limitations in connection with its status as a Neighbourhood Safer Place (NSP) and is thus an unlikely answer to the problem.

– The fourth would require a new purpose-built structure to be erected adjacent to the current Stanley Uniting Church (again with considerable funding necessary) linked to an appropriate long-term watertight legal agreement with the Uniting Church covering ownership/tenancy arrangements.  This would not be a fast process.

The community was invited to vote in order of preference for whichever of the four possible sites they consider the best as a permanent home, in order to guide the SRCI Committee as to which to examine more closely first.

Completely separate from its Post Office activities, SRCI now oversees the production of Stanley’s free newsletter, The Nine Mile News (which has now been published every month for two years).

It has become the vehicle for community information and its appearance is eagerly awaited as the beginning of each new month draws close.  Furthermore, SRCI manages the new website <www.stanleyvictoria.com.au> presenting a positive picture of our little piece of paradise in northeast Victoria, while very recently SRCI and Council have joined forces, together with several younger Stanley residents, in forming a Stanley Youth Group, which has already held its first Games Evening in the Hall, with plans for regular get-togethers in coming months.

On Sunday morning, 25th March, SRCI organised a breakfast barbecue to mark the first anniversary of the Post Office’s opening, which was enjoyed by some 45 people.

The first Annual General Meeting of SRCI will be held on Sunday 22nd April 2012 and it is hoped that the existing membership of 75 residents will be able to attend, while new membership applications are invited.

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