Old Grafton jail fit for multiple new purposes
AS THE new Clarence Correctional Centre nears completion, and the old Grafton jail approaches its closing date slated for mid-2020, thoughts have turned to what could become of the historic site once it is no longer a prison.
On Sunday NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced a new $3 billion acceleration fund to go towards job-creating projects, increasing the government's infrastructure pipeline to a guaranteed $100 billion.
The Infrastructure and Job Acceleration Fund will be used for smaller, shovel-ready projects touching every corner of the state, injecting up to an extra 20,000 jobs back into the NSW workforce.
Dan Fahey is a Grafton resident who is very keen to see the community maximise its opportunity with the old Grafton jail. He said the acceleration fund was an ideal opportunity for investment into a refurbishment of the site.
"The pending decommissioning of the old Grafton jail allows us, the community, to dive into a grab-bag of ideas for its repurposing," Mr Fahey said
"We can only implore people in decision-making positions to adopt an enlightened viewpoint, and consider their legacy, and to foster an attitude of benevolence, to embrace a world where change is possible."
North Coast Community Housing board member Phil Belletty said one option for the jail site was that it could be repurposed to provide the community with emergency and temporary accommodation to people in need.
Mr Belletty said NCCH have had preliminary discussions with NSW Corrective Services on the potential for the site to become community housing.
"There already is a 114-bed complex at the jail which is very nice so I think we really need to look at the possibility of the site with a view to have either permanent or semi-permanent accommodation," Mr Belletty said.
"Community and emergency housing for people in need is always in short supply so using the Grafton jail for that purpose should be a priority.
"The jail site should remain as something for the whole community, it has a long-standing connection to the community dating back to 1893 and with NSW Corrective Services looking to close the jail soon now is a good opportunity to really look at what can be done with it in the future."
Mr Belletty said the cost of refurbishing and maintaining the site would be a major consideration for any future project, but there were ways to keep them manageable.
"We need to think about wind, solar power to keep costs down and make the place carbon neutral," he said.
"Governments need to think about stimulus packages for regional centres and we're going to put our hands up for it."
Mr Fahey has been pondering the potential future use of the block located in the heart of Grafton and shared a range of ideas to benefit the community.
"The repurposing will not be a mere refurbishment, nor even a simple renovation, although these elements shouldn't go unaddressed, but it could be a remastering, a retrofitting, even producing a renaissance," he said.
"Could we create a place where science and art, music and culture combine to show us our true humanity right here in our community?
"Could it be an academy, museum, gallery, garden, embassy, sanctuary, hostel, hall or campus, or practically a carpark and childcare centre for hospital staff, or even all of these things?"
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