PAGE MP Janelle Saffin has welcomed Clarence Valley Council's decision to award Kempsey firm O'Donnell & Hanlon Pty Ltd the tender to build the $8-million Federally-funded Sir Earle Page Library and Education Centre in Grafton's Pound Street Carpark.
Today we're speaking to local builders who are furious the tender has not been awarded locally.
Ms Saffin said the fact that the new two-storey library will include a dedicated ground floor space for university students will provide a solid foundation from which Grafton can develop a reputation as a tertiary education centre.
"As a long time member of Southern Cross University's Council, I am particularly pleased that SCU and the University of New England are negotiating leases to share a 75-square-metre space for their external students to undertake courses," she said.
Ms Saffin said that because the library ranked as one of her major commitments for Grafton - alongside the Base Hospital redevelopment and the GP Super Clinic - it was important that the construction phase met the highest level of workplace health and safety accreditation.
"NSW Public Works, which oversaw the tender process and which now will manage the project on behalf of council, has assured me that O'Donnell & Hanlon's contract is weighted to use local sub-contractors and local suppliers wherever possible," she said.
"I am told that construction should start early next year and will take a full calendar year. The Jacaranda City will then boast one of the most modern, connected and user-friendly libraries in regional Australia.
"The naming of the library is a fitting tribute to Grafton-born surgeon and businessman Sir Earle Christmas Grafton Page, who served as Australia's 11th Prime Minister during a long career in Federal Parliament."
The House of Representatives Division of Page is named after Sir Earle, who was the Country Party Member for Cowper for 42 years.
Clarence Valley Mayor Cr Richie Williamson said it was a very exciting time because this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to construct a major new facility for the benefit of all library users, not only for today but into the future.
"Council has already spent about $600,000 of the Federal funds on planning for the library and O'Donnell & Hanlon won the tender from four other firms with a contract price of $6,385,804 for the library building and associated works," he said.