The following comes from the Border Mail in Albury. Journalist is Brad Worrall. Nov 22, 2011

Image: SMH

THE future of the historic Mount Buffalo Chalet is again in limbo with the Victorian government rejecting the latest rescue bid.

Mount Buffalo Community Enterprise’s $50 million plan to refurbish the attraction was dismissed by Environment Minister Ryan Smith in a letter two weeks ago.

He said the government was not in a position to fund the proposal at this stage.

But Mount Buffalo Community Enterprise chairman John Brown wants to know what happens next.

“We have written to the Premier to seek clarification on what their plans are to save the chalet,” he said.

“If not our plan, then what and by when?

“The concept plan, which has already withstood close scrutiny from an architectural, heritage and financial perspective, involves a contemporary chalet redevelopment.

“It would breathe new life back into the chalet and the mountain.

“Now all we get is a letter and that is a little dismissive.”
The plan submitted to the government would result in a 99-room hotel-guest house combining contemporary accommodation and preserving the key heritage components of the old chalet.

The plan included low-emissions solar power systems and a new interpretative centre.

The group did not intend to reinstate the ski fields on the Ovens Valley plateau.

The state government would have been required to put up $33 million for the venture, with no return on the taxpayers’ investment.

More than 50 per cent of the profits would have been returned to the community.

Mr Brown wonders whether the government is hoping for a white knight.

“The decision to appoint us came after two rounds of advertising,” he said.

“We were clearly the most attractive option to government at that time, so who will come to the chalet’s rescue now?

“The truth is, today, we are no closer to saving Mount Buffalo chalet than we were five years ago.

“That’s of grave concern to us.

“If the community shares our concern now’s the time to speak up.”

The chalet has been closed since January 2007 in the wake of the bushfires in the North East and an ensuing lease dispute.

Mount Buffalo Community Enterprise’s involvement followed an extensive tender process over 18 months.

In October last year the group entered a 12-month exclusive negotiation period with Parks Victoria.

A $200,000 state bovernment grant and $250,000 of their own money paid for a viability study and the business plan.