AUSTRALIA Park’s water wheel is set to be replaced by a $70,000 art work.
Albury Council’s community and cultural committee last night unanimously backed a recommendation that included the removal of the water wheel from its home since 1969 as soon as possible and seek a new owner for it.
The decision, if approved by the council at its final meeting of the year, will reverse a move by the previous council to construct a public art work incorporating the water wheel.
Cr Patricia Gould, one of the strongest supporters of its retention in late 2011, has conceded the water wheel is beyond salvation.
“It is a shame it has got into such disrepair,” she said.
“I don’t want to see something that is rundown be left at the entrance to our city.”
Cr Daryl Betteridge said the previous council had erred with its decision.
“We came to the decision under a degree of pressure,” he said.
“The water wheel is not an important cultural asset and, if restored, would be an on-going cost and a health and safety issue.”
Incorporating the water wheel into the art work would blow the gateway public art work budget of $70,000 with a recent structural assessment highlighting more than 20 risks as it stands.
“In its current condition the water wheel is structurally unsound,” the assessment said.
“We reiterate there will be a significant amount of rectification work required before the water wheel can be used again,
“The concrete pond —reservoir will need to be reconstructed.
“In our opinion, based on the condition of the structure and overall risks, it would be cheaper to reconstruct the water wheel.”
It has not worked for more than a decade.
The Albury and District Historical Society installed the water wheel after it was removed from a farming property near Tallandoon.
A member of the family that donated the water wheel, Roberta Gay, is upset at the council plan.
“I don’t think they’ve got any right whatsoever to pull it down,” Mrs Gay said.
“It was given to the people of Albury, really, so why don’t the people of Albury have a say.
“I haven’t heard one person anywhere say it should be destroyed.
“Had they maintained it in the first place, it would not be in such a state.”
Mrs Gay wants the water wheel restored and a plaque erected describing its history and use.