Speech notes for His Worship the Mayor of the City of Penrith Cr Greg Davies for the
ST MARYS COUNCIL CHAMBERS OFFICIAL REOPENING at St Marys Council Chambers on Saturday 9th February 2008 at 2:00pm

Federal Member for Lindsay, Councillor David Bradbury, MP
State Member for Londonderry, Allan Shearan, MP
Councillors Deputy Mayor, Cr Jackie Greenow
Cr Kaylene Allison
Cr Pat Sheehy AM
Cr Susan Page representing Diane Beamer MP, Member for Mulgoa
Staff General Manager of Penrith City Council Alan Travers
VIPs 2008 Community Achievement Award recipients, Sister Mary-Louise Petro and Diane Walczak
2007 Wall of Achievement Recipients:
o James Mason OAM
o Miluska Simkova
o Gary Stockbridge
Secretary/Treasurer of the St Marys Development Committee and President of the Historical Society, Norma Thorburn

On behalf of Penrith City Council, it's my pleasure to welcome you to the official opening of the refurbished former St Marys Council Chambers building.

This beautiful building has heritage and local historical significance, and a great deal of potential that can now be more fully realised.

This building was the long-awaited home of the St Marys Municipal Council from 1933 until 1949, and later served the local community well for many years as the library and baby health centre.

What a fitting new home for the St Marys and District Historical Society, I know the society's members have many exciting projects and exhibitions in mind, and I look forward to seeing them continue their valuable work here. So too the St Marys Development Committee.

Looking around, it's obvious the polished floorboards, new lighting and blinds, paintwork and various other improvements have made this a pleasant and useful space.

I'm pleased to hear the Encore sewing group, the China Painters and the Tapestry Group have already settled in happily here. I have no doubt "The Chambers" will be well used by a range of local groups for many years to come, particularly once the improved access, kitchen and toilet facilities are completed.

You'll notice I'm wearing the Mayoral Chain of Office today. Less obvious is the fact that one of the shields is engraved with the name of St Marys Municipal Council. This recognises its significance as one of the four councils that amalgamated to form the Municipality of Penrith in 1949.

For more than 40 years after the first St Marys council was elected in 1890, it lacked a home of its own. The council met monthly in the Protestant Hall, paying rent of five shillings per meeting.

Some serious business was achieved though, both before and after the move here. At the time of the Local Government Act of 1906, the St Marys council area included a population of 2000 and a total of 472 buildings. There was no street lighting and no piped water supply.

In May 1928, the Council signed for a piped water scheme, and a full street lighting system was installed in the early 1930s.

At the official opening of these Chambers in 1933, the Government representative, Mr Jackson, said: "it is plain to me that they have been well conceived, well architected, and well built, and that with such a start this community can look to the future with complete confidence".

The audience that day could not in their wildest dreams have imagined the changes St Marys would see over the following 75 years. But I suspect they would fully approve of the new life Penrith City Council has now given to this building.

Council has long held a vision to develop this part of our City into an integrated civic, community, arts and cultural precinct. Much planning and consultation is being dedicated to achieving a functional and attractive space that provides better facilities for local community and cultural groups.

As you came here today you might have noticed the new parking area being built behind the Senior Citizens and Community Centre. The cultural precinct will be characterised by landscapes and architecture that are easily accessible for people with diverse needs, and which offer plenty of parking, seating, lighting and signage

The vision started to take real shape last September when we officially opened the refurbished St Marys Arts and Crafts Studio next door. Today we celebrate the next step.

Still to come in Stage One is the upgrading of the Memorial Hall. Tenders closed on the 22nd of January and are being assessed as I speak.

I expect a report to Council very soon, recommending the appointment of a builder so those long-awaited works can begin. Improvements to the Memorial Hall will include new foyer, stage and backstage facilities, as well as new meeting space and additional toilet and kitchen facilities.

Stage Two of the Precinct, currently in the early planning stage, may well include the amalgamation of child care services in the south eastern corner of the site into one building.

I'd like to thank the community representatives - people like Norma Thorburn, who has been a driving force for the St Marys community in so many ways for many years.

As Secretary/Treasurer of the St Marys Development Committee, President of the Historical Society, Norma's active contribution to the success of the Penrith Valley Cultural Precinct is greatly appreciated.

Norma has also spent many hours over the last year visiting local community and cultural groups to find out their needs, and help us meet those needs within the Precinct. Keep up the great work Norma!

We also have Norma and Tom Thorburn and other members of the Historical Society to thank for the fascinating displays of historical costumes, memorabilia and photographs here today.

If you haven't had a chance to look at the Memorial Wall, please take> the time before you leave today. It's a work in progress to pay tribute to the many local men who served our country in war, >and it's obvious a huge amount of time and work has already gone into its creation.

Thank you to Council's project team, including Graham Howe, Glen Tuckwell, former Facilities Operations Manager Gary Dean and former Acting Facilities Operations Manager, Tony Jarrett, as well as Neighbourhood Facilities Officer Linda Sack. Council's carpenter, Sid Wilson, has also done a great job and worked hard getting things ready here.

Thank you to:
o Mirror Floor Sanding - who carried out thefloor restoration and finishing.
o MS St Clair Building - who carried out all the timber work restoration and replacement, and
o Novaretti Pty Ltd - who carried out the painting and advised on colour selection.

Finally, I'd like to acknowledge Deputy Mayor Cr Jackie Greenow's efforts and dedication in this area. She has been actively involved in both the Historical Society and Development Committee for several years, and I know this project has been close to her heart.

It's now my pleasure to officially reopen this building.

Thank you.