Brewery raises school fears

Edward Scown & Phoebe PinGeraldton Guardian
A new microbrewery is proposed for this Fitzgerald St building part owned by Mayor Shane Van Styn
Camera IconA new microbrewery is proposed for this Fitzgerald St building part owned by Mayor Shane Van Styn Credit: Picture: Edward Scown

A proposal to open a microbrewery on Fitzgerald Street has drawn mixed reactions online, as some express concerns about its proximity to Geraldton Primary School.

The building selected for the brewery was built at the same time as the primary school opposite it, in the mid-1870s.

In recent times it has been the site of several nightclubs, before being converted to a gym.

City of Greater Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn owns a 75 per cent stake in the building. He says he has no involvement with the brewing company, and that he and a business partner are just leasing the building to the brewery.

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“I’m purposefully not looking into (public submissions) or getting involved with the proposal,” he said. While Mr Van Styn did not know the contents of them, he said the City had received “at least 100” public submissions.

The proposal has drawn more comment than a recent plan to revive the Rollerdrome, which received 47 submissions. While some people are excited about a new watering hole, others have slammed the proposal on social media, with one woman saying Geraldton Primary School students would “be at risk of people under the influence”.

The Facebook user said the area was prone to traffic congestion because there were “so many schools crammed in next to each other”. A Geraldton Primary School staff member was concerned the opening of the microbrewery would lead to “finding bottles, broken glass, used needles and used condoms on the school oval and in playground sand pits”.

Department of Education executive director of infrastructure Anna Brown said a formal submission had been made to the City of Greater Geraldton

“Careful consideration must be given to what is built near schools, so the amenity and the wellbeing of staff and students is not adversely impacted,” she said.

Public comment on the proposal has now closed, and the City has brought in an external consultant to assess the application.

City CEO Ross McKim said the external consultant was engaged because of the “perceived conflict of interest with the applicant being a member of council and for transparency and equability reasons”.

“The next stage in the process will be dependent on the nature of the submissions,” Mr McKim said.

He said City officers needed time to collate and assess the data.

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