Family history group gets a lifeline

Mid Gippsland Family History Society secretary Peter McNab and president Dawn Cowley outside the former Moe Service Centre. photograph michelle slater

Michelle Slater

A Moe-based community group has been given some certainly after being in limbo for the past year due to a lease on the former Moe Library and Service Centre site.

The Mid Gippsland Family History Society has been given a home for an initial 12 months after Latrobe City Council agreed to enter into a peppercorn rental agreement with the group to move into a section of the former Moe Service Centre.

The family history society had been leasing the old Moe Library on the Kirk Street site under a three-year Moe Community Groups Hub trial that ended in 2019.

But the history society – along with lead tennant Gippsland Employment Skills and Training and other community groups – were told to suddenly vacate at short notice in July last year.

The history group was able to stay in the former library under a month-by-month arrangement, but has now secured the neighbouring service centre under the new lease.

Mid Gippsland Family History Society secretary Peter McNab said the new lease would give the group more certainty.

“We have a lot of resources needing to have somewhere with security, Mr McNab said.

“The service centre represented a good opportunity.”

Latrobe City picked the history group to move in after an expressions of interests process began last year.

Council had also considered other options for the building, including either selling the centre, commercially leasing out the entire building, or entering into a public-private partnership to redevelop the site.

Under the latest agreement, Latrobe City will need to spend $20,000 a year to cover the service centre’s operating costs.

Latrobe City will also throw open more expressions of interest for other community groups to move in, or find a commercial tenant.

Latrobe City councillor Brad Law said the centre was in a unique position in the centre of Moe.

“I think the community has been consulted a lot in this proposed community centre,” Cr Law said.

“It’s certainly in the best interests for council to maintain it in its hands and try to give community groups the best access to it.”