Push to save Lismore's historic fountain grows momentum
PLANS to demolish the historic Lions fountain outside Lismore City Hall have hit a roadblock, with a local Lions club joining a growing campaign to save the monument.
The move sets the stage for a last-minute appeal at Lismore City Council's meeting next Tuesday, when councillors will cast a vote on the matter with staff recommending it be destroyed.
The Northern Star reported last month the council planned, in agreement with the Lismore Lions Club, to replace the fountain with a new and contemporary Lions-themed art project.
A council statement at the time said there was "now agreement with the Lions club that the fountain should be demolished and the history and importance of the site... be celebrated through the public art project".
But president of the Lismore City Lions Club Nancy Casson said that revelation came as a bolt from the blue for her members.
Since then, all except one of 26 people attending a joint Lions meeting last week voted against the demolition.
Ms Casson said Lismore Lions Club's support for the demolition was the result of "misinformation" which crucially had estimated the cost of restoring the fountain at more than $200,000.
Council staff have since quoted the job at just $41,800.
Lismore Lions Club member Les Smith agreed that his members were given figures "pulled out of the air" when they voted to remove the fountain and it had put the club in an "awkward situation".
"It has been handled badly," Mr Smith said. "The Lismore Lions Club has been put in a very awkward situation in that we've been nominated as the only club to vote; it should never have been that way.
"There's well over 100 clubs in the district. All clubs have put money into the fountain.
"Let's go back to the start and do it right."
Mr Smith said the club was meeting on Monday night to discuss whether to rescind its support for the demolition.
The local Lions district board has also weighed in on the issue, directing Ms Casson to arrange an independent quote for the fountain restoration from outside the council.
The quote will be ready in time for next Tuesday's meeting, at which councillor Greg Bennett will introduce a motion to restore the fountain.
Built in 1967, the fountain was a joint Lions project which celebrated Lismore's role in the founding of the first Lions club in Australia in 1947.
"It's an iconic historic monument in Lismore," Ms Casson said. "It will have been there 50 years in 2017.
"It was the cost factor that influenced the decision to get rid of it. Here is an iconic thing, and council should be proud of the fact that Lions started in Lismore."
A majority 75% of voters in a Northern Star online poll voted in favour of fixing the fountain.