Official opening of Clarence Valley Council’s Prince St offices
Published on 23 November 2021
The refurbished Council offices in Prince St, Grafton have today been officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony including the placement of a time capsule.
Local Elders joined Clarence Valley Council Mayor Jim Simmons, General Manager Ashley Lindsay, Councillors, dignitaries, members of the public and staff at the opening.
The Prince St building has undergone a dramatic transformation over the last 12 months, with a focus on improving accessibility for everyone, from members of the public and staff to Councillors.
Energy efficient design features have also been incorporated into the building to reduce the running costs and bring it into the modern era of building design including improved insulation, solar power capabilities and LED lighting throughout the building.
The $7,953,191 project was completed on budget.
Clarence Valley Council Mayor Jim Simmons said the new space reflected the organisation’s growth and values.
“Improving accessibility has been central to the project, and we are proud to say all parts of the building are now wheelchair accessible and disability friendly,” Mr Simmons said.
“A focus on cultural acknowledgement and celebration has resulted in the incorporation of several elements to recognise our First Nations peoples, from the Acknowledgement to Country on the front doors of the customer service centre to the incorporation of our Three Mobs, One River artwork on glass walls throughout the building.
“The original Prince St building was built on strong foundations; this refurbishment will ensure Clarence Valley Council is equipped to stand even stronger into the future.”
Program Support Officer and Project Manager Leah Munro said the most exciting part was seeing the reactions of staff members when they first entered the building.
“People were really excited to see the changes to the space but what I liked the most was seeing everyone reconnect with one another,” Ms Munro said.
“After months of people being separated by COVID and the building works it was wonderful to hear the building come back to life as staff returned to Prince St.”
Time capsule placement
General Manager Ashley Lindsay said one of the highlights of today’s celebrations was seeing the time capsule interred in the floor of the foyer.
“When works were scheduled to demolish the internal structure of the existing council office in Prince St, Grafton, a member of the public contacted us to say a time capsule had been built into the walls,” Mr Lindsay said.
“The contractors were tasked with the job of safely retrieving the historically significant object and on 1 June 2021 at 2.12pm the contractor, FDC discovered a cylindrical copper tube in an unmarked wall cavity at the front of the building.”
Originally placed into the walls of the Grafton Civic Centre in 1968, the copper cylinder is about 40cm in length, with the words Property of Grafton City Council, Chisel to Open, stamped into one end.
While it’s not due to be opened for another 47 years, the contents are thought to include; 3 newspapers from 1897 found under the foundation stone of the original town hall during its demolition, a 1967 Daily Examiner which contained a story of the unearthing of the original canister, an original English half florin, a photo of the alderman at the time, a memo in an envelope from the building contractor Reg J. Want and an aerial photograph of Grafton and South Grafton.
“As the time capsule is not due to be opened until 2068, it will be buried in the new building with its contents intact,” Mr Lindsay said.
A second, new time capsule has joined the first, after Clarence Valley Council staff were invited to select items to accompany the original into the future, continuing the story and commemorating the upgrade to the building.
It has been buried alongside the original canister and includes items that will speak to the people of 2068 about who we are, and about our experience here and now in 2021.
Mr Lindsay said, “Staff selected topical items for the second time capsule including current imagery of Grafton, a face mask, language and artwork of the Yaegl, Bundjalung and Gumbaynggirr people, a local newspaper, Jacaranda Festival memorabilia, and a feather from a coastal emu.”