Museum ‘mess’ deepens due to concerns over car park

MOVED: Oberon and District Museum committee member Ray McMahon says they have no choice but to change the entry into the museum.
MOVED: Oberon and District Museum committee member Ray McMahon says they have no choice but to change the entry into the museum.

THE future of the Oberon and District Museum is uncertain due to concerns about its ability to accommodate visitors’ cars and to pay full council rates.

Museum members Ray and Laurie McMahon say the museum committee is now in caretaker mode and they will only be opening the facility on request. 

"We will not open until this mess is sorted out and we will not be taking applications from those wishing to become members," Mr McMahon said.

It comes after the museum’s entrance was moved from Scotia Avenue to Pine Street, west of the facility.

Mr McMahon said they had to make the change because the car park that had been used by the museum is leased by Oberon Tarana Heritage Railway (OTHR) group from John Holland Group.

The McMahons say the Oberon Museum's name is not included in OTHR's insurance policy, so they had to shut the car park.

"If something were to happen in the car park, we would not be covered," Mr McMahon said. "Being a volunteer organisation, we cannot afford extra insurance to cover the car park.

"We have approached OTHR and have been advised that if the museum wishes to use this land as car parking, they may be able to come to some commercial arrangement.

"We do not have the money; we are a voluntary organisation. We are struggling to pay the rates as council have made the decision to charge us full business rates.

"We were paying for water, sewerage and town beautification, which was about $300 per annum. That was fair enough, but we cannot afford full rates."

An OTHR spokesperson said the land adjacent to the museum is land OTHR leases from John Holland.

"We have let the museum use this land for their car park free of charge as an in-kind donation to keep the museum open. If they choose to move their entry location, that is up to them," the spokesperson said.

"In January 2017, Oberon Council approved a Skoda and Tatra Museum to be located in the car park with five car spaces for themselves.

"Skoda and Tatra will make their own arrangements to lease or sub-lease land from Transport NSW through the John Holland Group."

Oberon Council general manager Gary Wallace said council has no role to play in the lease arrangements.

Mr Wallace said once all the leases are finalised, council is looking to get all the users of this railway precinct together to discuss parking for all users.

Mr McMahon maintains the parking area is not big enough for users.

"We cannot accommodate buses,” he said. "We feel the Oberon Museum is being pushed out. We've had no consultation with OTHR, John Holland or Skoda."

Oberon Museum has more than 8000 items and photographs on display.