Can you help build this drought-stricken community’s hub?

Ruby Phillips,8,Olivia O’Malley, 6, and Lucy Phillips,6, looking down the main street of Karoonda. PIC: TAIT SCHMAAL.

Calling all local builders. Can you transform a humble carpark into a $500,000 community hub in just six months? If this sounds like you, a small South Australian community wants to hear from you.

Karoonda East Murray Council has extended an urgent plea to SA builders to help construct its long-awaited community hub after being notified in October that the town was eligible for up to $1 million in federal government drought relief funding.

The only catch: the money must be spent by June 30 next year and the development can cost no more than $500,000.

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With time quickly running out, Council Chief Executive Officer Matthew Morgan says the hunt is on for an innovative, ambitious and proven company to take on the project, which will be located a two-hour drive east of Adelaide – beyond Murray Bridge.

“We’re looking to convert a car park into a community hub and childcare centre for around $500,000 in just over six months, so we want to hear from businesses who can deliver this project and guarantee it will be up and running by June 30 next year,” he says.

Ruby Phillips, 8, Olivia O’Malley, 6, and Lucy Phillips, 6, on the proposed site with local mums and children. PIC: TAIT SCHMAAL.

“This town has a huge challenge ahead, but it’s an exciting challenge to have and we’re entirely confident we can achieve it.”

The new facility – to be centrally located on Peake St in Karoonda – could include a community meeting space, multi-use rooms for youth activities, and a dedicated childcare section catering for up to 12 children.

Morgan says the facility will tick multiple boxes in council’s long-term strategic plan and will also provide a place for the community to “come together and connect” at a time when drought is affecting many local families.

“It would include child care and outside hours school-care are services that our community needs to enable stay-at-home parents to seek employment opportunities or to expand their businesses,” he says.

“This is vital in a time of drought, particularly when families start to rely more on off-farm income.

Ruby Phillips, 8, Olivia O’Malley, 6, and Lucy Phillips, 6, on the proposed site. PIC: TAIT SCHMAAL.

“A hub like this will create jobs in the short-term as well as enable people to seek more opportunities for income and business growth in the mid to long-term.”

Morgan says council is open to creative concepts, including modular construction, to ensure the facility is delivered by the June 30 deadline.

“We know there are companies out there who will be able to bring some innovative and cost-effective solutions to the table and we’d like to hear from them,” he says.

“We expect the company will work with local contractors and builders where possible to maximise opportunities to local businesses during construction.”

Morgan says keen contractors should contact him on 0417 819 192 to register their interest, or download the information brief from the Karoonda East Murray Council website at dckem.sa.gov.au/page.aspx.

This article from The Advertiser originally appeared as “Ambitious builders sought for rural drought-relief project”.