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Caulfield Community Toy Library faces demolition

A popular Carnegie toy library recently renovated to the tune of nearly $200,000 is facing demolition to make way for a paltry plot of green space, leaving parents furious and questioning the waste of ratepayer dollars.

by Emma-Jayne Schenk, Caulfield Glen Eira Leader

Caulfield Community Toy Library members Pia Lower with her children Jonathan, 1 and Marianne, 3, and Sophie Cummins with her daughter Olivia, 3. Picture: Josie Hayden

A recently renovated toy library helping hundreds of new parents is facing the wrecking ball to make way for just 610sq m of open space.

Space-starved Glen Eira Council wants to tear down Caulfield Community Toy Library in Carnegie to open up a fraction of space near Koornang Park — despite spending $190,000 in 2014 purpose-fitting the 1960s building for the library to use.

Committee member Pia Lower said the plans threatened the existence of the 300-member, 32-year-old toy library, and were a complete waste of ratepayers’ money.

Olivia and Marianne, both 3, love the toy library. Picture: Josie Hayden

Ms Lower said, if approved, the council faced another estimated $200,000 bill to move the library and refurbish a new site — and another $50,000 for demolition and landscaping — all to gain less than one per cent of land area of the park and reserve.

“As far as we can tell, we’ll be replaced with grass,” Ms Lower said.

“Apparently our presence interferes with the continuous green perimeter (around the park and pool) but we struggle to see how our building interferes with a path when it goes around us anyway.

“It’s an outrageous waste of money and will hit families, so it doesn’t make sense.”

The group lobbied for six years for the space in Koornang Park. Picture: Josie Hayden

The proposed demolition is part of the council’s draft Koornang Park/Lord Reserve masterplan, but the council is yet to seek an alternative home for the group.

Ms Lower said the committee had not been told anything about the plans until a letter was dropped in a member’s mailbox last week.

And she is certain the booming library would lose members if they were relocated from the “prime, easily accessible location near the pool, park and playground”.

“We were previously in a small room at (Carnegie Swim Centre) … and lobbied for six years to get this space,” Ms Lower said.

“We’ve had massive growth because of all the work we put in, and had a 45 per cent increase year on year since moving. It’s become a real community hub but now they’re taking the toys from the kids.”

Fellow parent Sophie Cummins agreed the library was vital, not only to try new toys and reduce waste and costs — but also for bringing people together.

“The playground next door is one of the easiest ways to convince the kids to leave the toy library too,” she said.

Glen Eira environment and infrastructure director Samantha Krull said the council had apologised to the toy library for not providing advance notice, and would meet with representatives today to “discuss... how their future needs can be addressed”.

“The toy library is recognised as a valuable community service,” she said.

“(But) as our population grows so does the demand on our open space network and need to cater for a diverse range of users and activities.”

She said the masterplan’s timeline depended on many factors, and the library would “likely” not need to relocate for a number of years.

The draft masterplan is open for community consultation until June 12.

Have your say here.


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