IDEAL SITE: Co-ordinator of the Ballina Community Men’s Shed, Graham Eggins, at the North Creek Rd site where the men would like to build their shed.
IDEAL SITE: Co-ordinator of the Ballina Community Men’s Shed, Graham Eggins, at the North Creek Rd site where the men would like to build their shed. Graham Broadhead

Social value of men's shed beats commercial value of land?

GRAHAM Eggins reckons it's time to test the values of Ballina's councillors to see whether they're interested in commercial value of council land or the social value of the Ballina Community Men's Shed.

Mr Eggins is the co-ordinator of the men's shed, and would like the councillors to allow the blokes to build a shed on council-owned land at 54 North Creek Rd in the Southern Cross Industrial Estate.

The trouble is the land has commercial value to the tune of hundreds-of-thousands-of dollars if it is developed.

Mr Eggins said the men's shed would be a "terrific piece of social capital for Ballina".

It's part of a national organisation which is said to be the fastest-growing community organisation in Australia.

It offers men the opportunity to get together and build stuff, and that, Mr Eggins said, reduced social isolation which was "one of the biggest causes of depression".

The Ballina Community Men's Shed formed in 2010 and currently meets two mornings a week at Southern Cross School K-12, East Ballina. It has 50 members, but at this stage it can't grow because of limitations with meeting at the school.

The blokes started looking for a permanent site about 18 months after the group formed.

Council offered several sites, and the men's shed took up the opportunity to build a 40m by 20m shed at 44 Fishery Creek Rd.

That was accepted gratefully, even though the men could see, Mr Eggins said, "some challenges".

They didn't foresee the requirement to raise the level of the land by 1m to 1.5m for flood control measures, which would have added about $300,000 to the cost of the shed.

In the meantime, the men's shed successfully obtained grants from the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation of $77,500, the State Government of $70,000 and the Ballina Baptist Church of $10,000.

Mr Eggins said the big money had deadlines attached, and extensions had been granted.

The men went back to council and the North Creek Rd site was put forward as a place where an even bigger shed than originally planned could be built that was closer to town.

Mr Eggins wants councillors to approve the North Creek site for lease to the men's shed at a peppercorn rate.


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