IN ITS 96-year history, Sailors Home Hall at Murra Warra has been the venue for debutante balls, play groups, a dance club and a ladies group raising money for nearby hospitals.
Today, Horsham Rural City Council is asking residents how they uses facilities such as Sailors Home Hall - and how often - as it prepares to develop the municipality's first Social Infrastructure Plan.
Sailors Home Hall committee of management president Rob Byrne said the hall was built in 1923 when the district's community was larger.
"To raise money, they sold bonds and five of my ancestors were original shareholders," he said.
"Today there is not much happening here. We run cards during the winter, every second weekend, alternating with Pimpinio. With the new wind farm going up, the company sometimes does signings or has meetings here.
"The farms are being sold and people are going to town, so the community's getting smaller. If we can get this hall to 2023 when it's 100 years old, I reckon we've done a good job. Once it's gone, it's gone. We can never bring it back."
Mr Byrne said rural residents north of Horsham needed a hub.
"Not all country people want to go to Horsham," he said. "When I was a child, the supper room was full of people playing cards and the hall was full of kids playing table tennis, but not anymore because the community's gotten smaller."
Mr Byrne said the council helped the committee by paying for power and termite control.
"If someone wants to come in and have a 30th or 50th birthday party, that's fine," he said.
Horsham Centre Cinema is another building the council's plan applies to.
Manager John O'Meara described it as a "multiplier".
"If you didn't have it here, people would go somewhere else and spend their dollars outside of Horsham," he said.
"The fact it is there means people from across the region come in and have a meal or go to Horsham Plaza. It not only entertains, but it multiplies."
Mr O'Meara said he employed three full-time and six part-time staff.
"We just have to keep upgrading to give people the level of service they want," he said. "We can't do what city cinemas do, but we give the best we can by doing things like upgrading the seats and digitising the projectors."
Horsham Mayor Mark Radford said he expected the Social Infrastructure Plan to guide funding priorities, and overlap with other strategies the council was working through.
"Council has been behind in its planning work, and we're trying to catch up," he said.
"This program is a bit of a fill-in-the-gaps type project next to the draft City to River plan, the Horsham South Structure Plan, the Open Space Strategy and the Urban Transport Plan. It looks at the gathering spaces for our community - whether it be halls, sporting grounds or public toilets ... things we haven't asked about before.
"It's about establishing how important the various pieces of infrastructure are to ratepayers. People might ask why council is asking so many questions, but I think it's important not to assume what people think.
"We rely on funding support from state and federal governments, and if something is identified as important and being used often by the community, that would justify spending money on it."
The survey closes on the council's website at midnight on Monday, October 14.
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