There are several websites dedicated to Willow Court and these quite rightly keep a close watch on progress at the site. That's a good thing. What's not so good is when opinions are presented as facts.
Several months ago when the council was considering the prospect of seeking expressions of interest for the ongoing development of the Willow Court site, a briefing was provided to the three main interest groups (Friends of Willow Court, Friends of Frescati and the Australian Paranormal Investigation Unit) before putting the proposal to a council meeting. All three groups were encouraged to submit their own expressions of interest should they wish to do so.
The proposal was then put to a regular open council meeting in March and I wrote about it here at the time. That meeting resolved to seek expressions of interest (EOI) for the development of the council-owned section of Willow Court and required that a draft EOI document be discussed at a councillor workshop and tabled at the May council meeting. Unfortunately the EOI document was not ready for the May council meeting last Thursday (May 21), so it was put to a special council meeting this Tuesday, May 26.
Contrary to what was stated on one of the Willow Court blogs yesterday, Tuesday's meeting was not a closed meeting. It was advertised in the daily newspaper and on the council website and any person who wished to attend the meeting was entitled to do so. Similarly, the agenda was open to the public and available in hardcopy from the council chambers and for downloading from the council website. The agenda is also available for downloading from the same blog that stated it was a closed meeting. On the night of the meeting, I personally unlocked the front doors of the courthouse meeting room. Sadly the public gallery was empty when council voted unanimously to proceed with the EOI process.
The same blog asserts: "It is expected that the Expression of interest will take up to 12 months, so the site will be left abandoned again for that period of time." I can assure the writer that Willow Court is far from abandoned.
Embarking on the EOI process does not mean we are giving up or stopping work. At the same time as testing the market for interest, we will continue to explore all other opportunities. In the absence of any further government funding, we have resolved to seek expressions of interest in the sale of the lucerne field below the new Woolworths supermarket, with all proceeds to go to Willow Court.
Far from forgotten, Willow Court is the subject of discussion at nearly every meeting of councillors.
- The Friends of Frescati hold working bees every second Sunday and have recently completed the undercoating of the rear wall of that important historic house to prepare it for painting in the spring.
- The Derwent Valley Players presented a short play in the grounds at Frescati earlier this month, assisted by the Friends of Willow Court and the Friends of Frescati.
- Government ministers have been familiarised with the site this month and the governor has visited a Heritage Month display on the site.
- The first stage of the redevelopment of the Barracks is almost complete, despite having slowed to a snail's pace - and councillors ask about this nearly every week.
- Bronte House is set to become the new home of the Derwent Valley Community House (more about that here).
- The council continues to explore all funding opportunities and is eagerly awaiting the outcome of the site's nomination for National Heritage listing.