It is one step forward for the new Shepparton Art Museum, but there is still a long way to go.
The Victorian Government has given the big tick to the planning scheme amendments for the site, which will change the face of Victoria Park Lake
It is still a while until the ambitious project is built and open to the public, but everything so far is going to plan.
For as long as the project has been proposed in the community, its scope, and, most importantly, its costs has been a subject of debate.
Plenty of people have supported the project from the get go, but many community members believed the money could be spent on better things.
People pointed to the state of our roads or other areas where Shepparton is lacking as places where the money should go.
The anger is understandable, but it ignores some key facts about the project.
The $34.5 million price-tag would be a huge and outrageous cost if it was paid for exclusively by our council.
The state and federal governments chipped in $10 million each, matching the council’s $10 million commitment.
That $20 million from the state and federal governments comes on the condition it will go towards the new SAM and cannot be spent on something else if the council has a change of heart.
The council cannot just divert the $20 million to road upgrades or improved car parking.
It is not the council’s money to spend.
So it’s use it or lose it.
Hopefully now the project is locked in and moving forward the community will get behind what will be an exciting development for Shepparton.
It is easy to get cynical at highly ambitious and subjective economic projections on what SAM will bring to town.
According to the latest estimates, the new SAM will increase spending in town by $6 million annually, which we should take with a grain of salt.
What is clear is that it will be one of the most striking and interesting public places in town and, if it is embraced, it will be another magnet to bring people to our town.
It is still a long way until it is a reality, but, hopefully, the public embraces and welcomes ‘SAM 2.0’ as a new Shepparton icon.