The Central Coast Volunteer Rescue Squad has officially left its base of operations at Wyong Race Club, signalling the end of a 34 year era on Rose St.
The club was forced to vacate as part of the Wyong Race Club’s $6m expansion, with their building lease expiring on February 28.
Despite the end of a three decade dynasty, Squad President, Joel Dawes, said members were trying to remain positive and looking towards the future.
“There was nothing we could have done to stay in the base.
“We were told by Central Coast Council that the race course owns the land and there’s nothing we can do, so we left.
“Plain and simple,’’ he said.
“Our time at our Rose St address started in 1985, when members at the time hand built the building from materials donated by the Central Coast community,” Dawes said.
“That’s not to say it hasn’t been an emotional time.
“Over the past few days the Squad has been packing up over 30 years of history, equipment and training essentials.
“We had members who helped build the place packing it up.
“The mood amongst members is definitely one of sadness and anger,” he said.
The Chronicle understands that the Squad was the only community group to be offered compensation for their building.
Dawes could not confirm the amount the Squad had been offered, but did say it was less than half the amount of the market and replacement goods valuation that the Squad undertook at the behest of the race club.
Both the Central Coast Poultry Club and Wyong Lions Club confirmed that neither club had received an offer of compensation for their buildings, which they also built/modified and maintained, on the land.
According to Dawes, the Squad has secured a temporary base in Berkeley Vale and its goal now is to secure a new permanent base.
“We’re speaking with Council, local Members of Parliament and other community groups about a potential new permanent base.
“We’d love to hear from anyone, particularly around the Central Wyong/Warnervale areas, with land they might consider letting us use,” Dawes said.
It is unclear at this point to what extent the Squad’s operations will be impacted by the move, but Dawes said the prospect of permanently paying rent on premises would have an enormous impact.
“We’re completely not-for-profit.
“Most of what covered our operational costs came through fundraising and government funding, so we’re going to struggle more than we ever have, to make do,” he said.
Recruitment will also become an ongoing issue as the Squad won’t be holding any recruitment drives until a new base of operations is established.
Interview, Mar 1
Joel Dawes, Central Coast Volunteer Rescue Squad
Dilon Luke, Journalist