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Making the case for Alphington

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07 December 2009

I have been Business Manager of Alphington Grammar School for the past 16 years and have been directly involved in all of the building projects during that time.

This year is the school's 20 anniversary and it has been celebrated with the school receiving planning permits for its two projects that being the construction of a multi-purpose hall and new primary classrooms.

Both these projects have been granted capital funding from the Australian Government.

The multi-purpose hall was granted a capital grant of $480,000 and the school was successful in receiving $2m as part of the government's Building Education Revolution (BER) to construct new primary classrooms.

The reason for me writing this letter is to provide your readers with the facts regarding multi-purpose hall project.

I am in a position to do this having been directly involved from day one.

I would also like to take this opportunity to make it quite clear that my only objective is the wellbeing of the school and that I do not have any political affiliations within the Greek community.

As most readers would know the school's first application to construct a multi-purpose hall on the escarpment of the Darebin Creek failed. This was a very and expensive process for the school.

The total cost together with the Master Plan was $191,365.

It was made quite clear by the City of Yarra that it would oppose any construction on the escarpment of the creek.

The school then decided that it would be appropriate to visit the City of Yarra and to discuss their preference for the location of the multi-purpose hall and a location that they would not oppose.

The response received from Mary Osman (Planning Department of the City of Yarra) was made quite clear to the school that being that the only location that would be supported by Council was the property occupied by the house that was purchased by the Greek Community.

After great deliberation it was decided to proceed with the construction of the multi-purpose hall on the house site.

This decision was made with the approval of both the School Council and the executive committee of the Greek Community of Melbourne and Victoria (GOCMV).
It needs to be said however, that there was some opposition to this with some members wanting to pursue the construction of the multi-purpose hall on the original location.

The school's decision to proceed with the City of Yarra's recommendation was based on the following reasons:
Ø The school had spent a great deal of time and money with no success and it had been made quite clear by the City of Yarra that if the school proceeded with any application that had the multi-purpose hall on the Darebin Creek escarpment, it would be opposed.

This would mean that the school would again need to appeal to VCAT.

Ø Any appeal to VCAT takes up to 3 months if you're lucky. The school did not have the luxury of time, having already deferred the $480,000 capital grant from the Australian Government

Ø The question asked was could the school afford to spend $150,000 (architect's fees, professional consultants and legal fees- $7,000 per day) with no guarantee that the permit would be granted?

Ø The school also had an obligation to its community who to their credit have been patient during this long process.

Ø The cost of building on a flat site will be approximately 30% less, allowing the school to include more faculties (music rooms, instrumental rooms, theatre studies area) in the new multi-purpose hall.

After the completion of a selection process the school appointed Hayball Pty Ltd as its architects with the instructions to design a multi-purpose hall on the house site and where the school's relocatable classrooms are currently located.
The position that the school finds itself today is:
Ø The architects have completed Schematic Design, Design Development and Contract Documentation. Total fees being $167,848.75.

Ø Other consultant's fees (engineer consultants, quantity surveyors, landscape architects, planning consultant) total another $51,426.
Ø Totals fees paid $219,275.
Ø Tender documentation has been issued and close on the 8 December 2009.

Ø Australian Government has been informed that the building contract will be signed before the end of 2009 meeting the agreed deferment date.

The repercussions of not proceeding with the project on the intended site are:
Ø The total fees paid $219,275 would be lost.
Ø The school would lose its $480,000 capital grant.

Ø The Andrianako's donation of $300,000 would be withdrawn.

Ø School would need to spend at least another $250,000 for architects and professional fees and legal fees because the school would be required to appeal to VCAT.
Ø The school community could not be expected to accept another delay, with no guarantees if or when the project would be completed.

The total cost to the school if it was decided not to proceed with the current project and to endeavour to re-apply for the construction of a multi- hall on an alternative site would be approximately $1,250,000.
The house that was purchased by the GOCMV was not purchased for a preschool.

This suggestion was actually made by me after the purchase, however after having consultants come and inspect the house it was not a viable proposition and the recommendation was that it would be cheaper to demolish the house and construct a new building.

The unfavourable report was based on the building being two stories, the rooms too small, toilets inadequate, structural implications for any modifications and the building has asbestos.

I am asking people who oppose the demolition of the house to please reconsider their position based on the issues that I have raised.
I invite you to visit the school to discuss any matter of concern plus allow me the opportunity to show you the school and the proposed project site.

Manuel Pappos

Business Manager

Alphington Grammar

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