By Jeremy Sollars
A special meeting of the RANGE Residents Action Group Southern Downs to discuss the replacement of shelter sheds at the Swanfels Pioneer Memorial Park was held at the Yangan School of Arts last Thursday, 11 May.
RANGE chairman Peter Kemp told the Free Times the meeting was unanimously of the view that the council should construct a ‘like-for-like’ shelter to replace those demolished by the council in February, due to what the council stated was termite damage.
The sheds were originally a tennis shelter and a playshed at the old Swanfels State School and were shifted to the park in the 1980s.
They were demolished despite a council-commissioned engineering report showing the termite damage was repairable.
Councillors at their April meeting accepted an offer by local engineer Russell Anstey to provide design services for a replacement shelter for free, and to potentially increase funding in the new 2017-2018 budget ‘contingency grants fund’ for its construction.
But Mr Kemp said the fund was primarily for emergent issues such as burst water mains and that in any case the council could “find the money if they want to right the wrong”.
He said RANGE members had managed to retrieve the original building plans for the Swanfels shelters from archived material.
“The original design was almost as strong as modern building standards would require,” he told the Free Times.
“They used ironbark beams the length of a semi-trailer and cut in half.”
Mr Kemp said applying for outside grant funding for a new shelter was not an option as the Park had no incorporated body or committee managing it.
At the April meeting deputy mayor Jo McNally said a “preliminary” estimate of $100,000 for a ‘like-for-like’ structure was out of the question for the council, but community members have questioned such a high estimate.
RANGE will formally write to the council about the result of last week’s meeting, and it is understood a new estimate will be formulated based on Mr Anstey’s design, which has been completed.