Rundown icon could be demolished, replaced with artwork
IT WAS once the pride of Lismore - and a favourite photo location for newlyweds - but has since fallen into a state of disrepair and become a council maintenance nightmare.
But now plans by Lismore City Council to demolish the Lions Club fountain and a put a new art work in its place have prompted a social media backlash.
The fountain, which lives outside Lismore City Hall, was presented to the City of Lismore in 1967 in recognition of the city being the birthplace of Australia's first ever Lions Club in 1947.
But its fortunes have taken a dive.
Should the Lions Fountain be restored or replaced with some other artwork?
This poll ended on 12 August 2015.
Fix it. It's a part of Lismore's history and it could be beautiful again.
Beautiful? What are you on? We live in an area chock-full of artists, surely we can come up with something better!
Fix it. I don't like it, but I also remember what happened the last time Lismore mucked about with public art (the Ark).
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
A favourite haunt for vandals, its copper piping has been repeatedly bent and broken, its lighting smashed, and the entire foundations of the structure have been made unstable by Lismore's pug soils.
Before it was finally switched off in 2012 it was estimated to cost the council about $5000 a year to maintain and run.
Working with local Lions clubs, the council now plans to demolish the fountain and incorporate 29 plaques which adorn the monument into a new work of public art designed by local mosaic artist Scott Harrower.
Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell said the new artwork would tell the story of Lions' founder in Australia, Lismore man Bill Tresise, and mark the milestone of the club's 70th anniversary in Australia in 2017.
The new work would be paid via a $60,000 fund for public art under the Lismore City Hall refurbishment funding, and $63,000 raised by local Lions clubs.
But Lismore councillor Greg Bennett, leading the Save the Fountain group on Facebook which has attracted more than 400 likes, said the council should save the landmark.
Mr Bennett said he spoke for a section of the community who wanted to see Lismore's history preserved.
"It's a landmark that's been here for 50 years," he said.
"It means a lot to a lot of people."
A staff report has estimated to refurbish the fountain would cost a little more than $40,000.
To prevent it from future vandalism, marine-grade stainless steel would need to be custom-fabricated to match the original pipework.
One of the lion's heads would need replacing at a cost of $4000, and a steel safety grill installed across the water's surface.
Cr Bennett said the local Lions Club members who agreed to demolish the fountain "were led to believe that it was unaffordable" but the $40,000 shows that wasn't the case.
"Lions have $60,000 put aside," he noted.
But Lions Clubs International representative John Lynch said he had been convinced it was time for a change.
"There's been vandalism, people have broken nozzles of it, people have washed their dogs in it," he said.
"The cost of running it - that money comes out of the community.
"Looking at the new concept for telling the story of Lions... the Lions Clubs are very happy with that.
"We've got to go with the times."
The fate of the fountain will be decided at the council's September meeting, but any proposal would need to be public exhibited before a final vote.
Cr Bennett respected the Lions Club but said he hoped people would listen to public opinion.