A letter from Fr Francis regarding the land of Saint Brigid’s:
Throughout the past year the Healesville Parish Finance Council has been busy meeting and assessing many of the financial and maintenance issues with a view to the long term viability of the parish and its three church communities: Healesville, Yarra Glen and Marysville. There has been a desire to think creatively about ways in which we can better utilise our parish assets to generate ongoing revenue. Suring up the financial stability of the parish is going to be critical in the years ahead to ensuring the continuing viability of the parish.
Among the most obvious assets that could be better utilised is the land adjoining the St Brigid’s church. For the past century the land has been an empty paddock that has become increasingly overgrown. In its present state is serves no benefit for the parish. On the contrary, it is more of a burden and a liability. The annual rates on the land cost the parish. The maintenance of such a large property is a significant burden on our diminishing pools of volunteers. Every year we have (as a matter of necessity) paid to have the ‘jungle’ slashed. If it is allowed to become overgrown moving into summer the property becomes a potential refuge for snakes and a fire hazard, and consequently subject to local council penalties. Clearly the land could be far better utilised for the advantage of the parish.
This is not a new idea. A range of options for development have been explored over the decades, such forming a partnership with one of the Catholic aged care developers, or building independent units for rent. For various reasons none of these have been viable options. The biggest obstacle with any property development is the need for significant capital to get the process off the ground – capital that this parish unfortunately doesn’t have.
One solution currently being explored by the Parish Finance Council would be to subdivide the property into two allotments, with the sale of one allotment to developers (Area A) which would enable the parish to fund the building of perhaps three units on the second allotment (Area B). The rent from these properties could provide an ongoing source of revenue for the parish, alleviating much of the financial pressure currently experienced, making the parish less dependent upon the sacrificial giving of parishioners. It would simultaneously remove the on-going burden of maintenance of the property. The proposed configuration of allotments is shown below.
Since we are still at the ‘ideas’ stage it would be great to have feedback back from parishioners. At the end of the day, the parish and its assets are here to serve the needs of the parish so we want this to be something that has the support of the parishioners. Feel free to email the parish or contact one of the members of the Finance Council to share your thoughts, ideas, concerns or suggestions: Luke Houlihan, Mathew Moxey, Ed McGettigan and Rosemary Bowling.
Yours in Christ,
Fr Francis Denton