Bassendean Community Men’s Shed Inc.
1a May Holman Drive, Bassendean WA 6054 , Australia
The Lions Club of Bassendean initiated the idea of establishing a men’s shed in Bassendean in 2008 and approached the Town of Bassendean to find land to locate a shed. A number of sites were identified and rejected including the Eden Hill Primary School, the Cyril Jackson Senior Campus, the old BMX track, the Railway Historical Society and others.
Town of Bassendean invited community input into the location of the shed in its publication Bassendean Briefings in 2011.
After a frustrating and countless search over four years, the Lions Club thanked the Town for looking for a suitable site and advised that if no land was available the idea of establishing a Bassendean men’s shed would have to be abandoned. Then in October/November 2013 the Manager of the Council depot suggested some land at the back of the depot and adjacent to Collier Road could be used for a shed. Council agreed with this idea on 17 December 2013 subject to some conditions.
With land now allocated the Lions Club decided that it was time to reinvigorate the men’s shed group and placed notices around the Town and in the then Eastern Suburbs Reporter.
Initial discussions with LotteriesWest about funding a shed were resumed, with LotteriesWest making it clear there would need to be a viable men’s shed group before it would consider funding.
The April-May 2014 edition of Bassendean Briefings advised the community that “the long-held dream of the Bassendean Lions Club for a Bassendean Men’s Shed was a step closer.
The Bassendean Men’s Shed group was formed in 2014 and became incorporated in 2015. But discussion with all parties stalled due to the then proposed amalgamation between the Town of Bassendean and the City of Bayswater.
Without commitment discussions with LotteryWest looked at the sum of $500,000 being allocated to construct a shed. At the time this was broadly in line with grants that had been made to establish new sheds. In August 2015 it was suggested Council assist the shed in the grant application and later that the application be made by Council rather than the shed.
These discussions took place in the context of establishing a new shed on the Council depot block and on 27 October 2015 the Council approved the draft lease for that site.
Expectations that a new shed was on the horizon were reflected in an article in The Eastern Suburbs Reporter of 10 November 2015 that advised “The Bassendean Men’s Shed finally has a place to call home”. This message was reiterated in Bassendean Briefing of December 2015-January 2016 that advised “Men’s Shed one step closer”
One of the barriers to obtaining LotteryWest funding was need to demonstrate the shed had a viable membership base. To overcome this barrier the shed took the opportunity to establish a temporary men’s shed in the old Eden Hill shopping centre then used the Eden Hill Family Church. The Men’s Shed paid for electrical and plumbing work at the cost of several thousand dollars.
The temporary shed operated for eight months. It came to an end when the building owners decided to demolish the building. In that time the shed paid for contour plans for the depot site and the initial shed design (although the latter was donated). The heavy machinery obtained by the shed was placed in a container purchased with members funds and stored at the Council depot site.
The depots site was an odd shape block, with the cost of construction proving far too expensive.
In June 2017 Council approved an amendment to the depot lease area to enable a rectangular men’s shed to be constructed. The construction costs for the rectangular block still remained well outside the amount available for the build. Adding to the funding shortfall was a change in LotteryWest funding policy, with the amount now likely to be provided reduced to $200,000.
It became clear that a shed could not be constructed on the depot site for the funds available. This realization resulted in Council agreeing to “reconsider May Holman Reserve and the Fire Station as alternative sites to the Depot site”
The Council was not willing to purchase the fire station for a (reputed) price of $750,000 and the Fire Services were not prepared to place the fire station in the Council’s hands.
The May 2018 Council meeting selected the May Holman Reserve as the new preferred site for the Bassendean Men’s Shed based on the cost estimates and site analysis and later reallocated the $170,000 set aside for the depot site to the new site.
One of the challenges about locating a shed on the May Holman block was dealing with the Council storm water pipe that runs diagonally across the block. Fortunately, this was finally resolved.
Securing the Town’s approval for the new shed took a number of turns. In July 2018 Council advised the shed would be 30x15, not 24x18 as initially contemplated. While the shed would be narrower than initially envisaged, the new dimensions provided an additional 18 square metres.
In July Council advised the shed could be constructed within the funding envelope of $370,000, being $200,000 from LotteryWest and $170,000 from Council.
A decision to construct the shed was scheduled for the Council meeting on 28 August 2018. A large number of members attended, with Council deciding by a 5/1 majority to select a building configuration supported by the shed. Following that meeting there were ongoing discussions with Council on the design, with the shed represented by Adam Koval, Ray Bray, Kevin Crowe and Bob Rickard.
Some two months later the idea was floated in Council that the shed could be of tilt up construction and placed on the Railway Heritage side boundary and well forward on the block. This was not supported for cost and operational reasons and lapsed.
The tender for the construction of the shed was delayed, finally being advertised on 13 March, with a closing date of 11 April 2019. Then a recommendation on the appointment of the builder was due to be considered by the May 2019 Council meeting, but belatedly pulled from the Council agenda.
Again, a large number of members had attended the Council meetings in the lead up to the shed item being removed from the agenda. There was considerable disappointment the item had inexplicably removed. After venting its disappointment, the shed was assured the item would find its way back on the Council agenda in June 2019. And it did, with Council selecting by a 6/1 majority the contractor to construct the new shed.
Notwithstanding the Town selecting a contractor to construct the shed, in September 2019 it was argued the shed should be relocated on the block to preserve a magpie nest. Investigations revealed the nest did not have any eggs or young. It was then argued the shed should be a community centre.
Despite this opposition, the original shed design was maintained.
In December 2019 the Town approved, by a 5/2 majority, the lease between the Town and the Shed.
The building was officially handed over to the shed in mid-January 2020.
It would not have been possible for the shed to be constructed in the absence of strong support from LotteryWest, Councillors and Council officers. And without strong and ongoing support from members the outcome could have been quite different. Thanks go to all members who attended Council meeting after meeting to express their unwavering support for the shed and to those members who dedicated countless hours in negotiations with Councillors and Council staff.
It is now beholden on us all to make the shed a success.
“Men’s Shed: any community-based, non-profit, non-commercial organization that is accessible to all men and whose primary activity is the provision of a safe and friendly environment where men are able to work on meaningful projects at their own pace in their own time in the company of other men. A major objective is to advance the well-being and health of their male members.”
Australian Men’s Shed Association
The activities and programs offered at the Men’s Shed promotes healthy aging, reduces risk of depression, isolation and chronic illness that are often associated with aging adults, especially men.
THE REMARKABLE AUSTRALIAN MEN’S SHED ASSOCIATION
PO Box 529
Bassendean WA 6054