By Jeremy Sollars
A public meeting held at the Swanfels Pioneer Memorial Park east of Warwick last Sunday discussed options for coating the timbers on a new shelter constructed by the Southern Downs Regional Council.
The original shelter sheds in the park were demolished by the council in January this year after it deemed them an “eyesore” and unsafe due to termite damage, despite not carrying out any community consultation.
The meeting on Sunday was attended by about 30 locals and interested parties, and resolved to nominate two representatives to liaise with the council to discuss how the shelter timbers can be protected.
A Back to Swanfels Day is planned for Sunday 10 February 2018 with past ‘elders’ of the valley to cut a cake and those who initiated the rebuild will reveal and new ‘past and present dated’ plaque.
The original timber and iron-roofed sheds had formerly been a tennis shelter and a play shed at the old Swanfels State School. They were moved to the district’s Pioneer Park in the early 1980s.
Apprentices or trainees from All Trades Queensland (ATQ) were to have been engaged to construct the replacement shelter as a one-off project to give them work experience at no cost to the council, and $25,000 was set aside in the 2017/18 council budget for materials.
But ATQ was unable to locate a locally based registered training supervisor for the project, and the council was forced to engage a contractor to complete the construction at an additional cost to the council of “approximately $13,000”, a council spokeswoman said earlier this month.
Current and former local residents and former students of Swanfels State School were furious when the council razed the shelter sheds on Friday 20 January, less than 72 hours after announcing the sheds were to go.
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.
It is also popular with passing tourists.