By Jeremy Sollars
Work on a replacement shelter shed for the Swanfels Pioneer Memorial Park started last Monday 14 August.
The original shelters were demolished by the Southern Downs Regional Council in January after being declared a safety risk due to termite damage, despite an independent report stating the damage was repairable.
Funding was set aside in the 2017-2018 council budget for materials and All Trades Queensland is doing the work for free as a project for apprentices.
Current and former local residents and former students of Swanfels State School were furious when the council razed the shelter sheds to the ground on 20 January, less than 72 hours after announcing the sheds were infested with termites and had to go.
The timber and iron-roofed sheds had formerly been a tennis shelter and a play shed at the old Swanfels State School, and were moved to the district’s Pioneer Park in the early 1980s.
The park itself is hallowed ground in the Swanfels district, with plaques and trees commemorating early settlers and later families alike, and in some cases marking the site of their ashes, and is also popular with passing tourists such as ‘grey nomads’.
After the demolition, the council released a community survey asking residents if they want the sheds replaced, and if so with either a “simple structure” or “reconstruction of a structure similar to the previous building.
The overwhelming resolution of a public meeting in the park back in March was for council to construct a timber-and-iron structure as close as possible in size and design to the original sheds.