The Country Universities Centre and Griffith City Council have defended the decision to house a study centre in a council-owned building in Kooyoo Street, rejecting criticism by proponents of an alternative site.
Imran Syed and Matiullah Shirzad bought the former WIN TV station on Remembrance Drive two years ago and had worked with the Country Universities Centre to turn it into a study centre.
Mr Syed said no other expressions of interest had been submitted to the Western Riverina Country Universities Centre (WRCUC) board, so news from the most recent council meeting that Kooyoo Street was the preferred site was a shock.
"Council kept us in the dark until the last minute," Mr Syed said, adding that he felt "cheated" by the council and the board.
In a letter to The Area News, Mr Syed and Mr Shirzad write of their efforts to help win $2 million in government funds for the centre.
Griffith City Council mayor and WRCUC board chair John Dal Broi said the site was not promised to anyone.
The board had agreed unanimously that Kooyoo Street was more suitable as it was closer to the city centre, and therefore safer and more convenient for students.
“There’s no use crying over spilled milk when the board took the best option it had available to it,” Cr Dal Broi said.
“These guys need to pull their head in and think of what’s best for the community rather than their own personal financial gain."
The former bank building became available about six months ago when council staff were relocated.
The board told Country Universities Centre CEO Duncan Taylor about it in November, so he visited and expressed his preference for it.
"From CUC's point of view we've found the board in Griffith to be a good group to work with and we share their aims of finding the best location in Griffith," Mr Taylor said.
Councillor Rina Mercuri, who is on the WRCUC working committee, said she felt for Mr Syed and Mr Shirzad.
“I understand they’ve done a lot of hard work and it does sadden me, but we need to make the best decision for the community,” Cr Mercuri said.
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