A LAST-ditch bid has been launched to save the historic Corryong Recreation Reserve grandstand.
The grandstand, which is more than 100 years old and constructed by the same builder as the one at Towong racecourse, has been off limits to the public for more than three years.
Towong Shire’s decision last month to issue a demolition permit has sparked an 11th hour fight to save it.
Former Towong councillor Phillip Coysh is on a committee formed to overturn the demolition order and embark on a rescue mission.
“We think people were given a bum steer,” he said.
“We are digging in for a fight and the passion is unbelievable.
“When it was given the chop there were people who left that meeting feeling like there had been a death in the family.”
A stay of execution is being fought on multiple fronts, including an appeal to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to overturn the demolition order and pledges of support to carry out works to have the grandstand re-opened.
But the game-changer for the grandstand preservation committee was an independent assessment of the structure by Riverina engineering consultants Xeros Piccolo, which has previously worked on historic grandstands at Cootamundra and Lockhart.
The repair job had previously been estimated at $400,000, with $50,000 for regular ongoing maintenance costs.
Mr Coysh said Xeros Piccolo declared those estimates over the top.
“They think the whole thing can be done for about $200,000,” he said.
“They couldn’t believe how straight and true it was. There is very little degradation and some superficial issues.
“We all understand it can’t just look pretty and it has to be serviceable, but the advice given to us is it can be saved.”
The committee is on the recruiting trail for an accredited engineer to oversee the restoration.
It has also applied for incorporation to enable fund-raising.
It is hoping the Man From Snowy River Festival committee, which stages its annual event at the reserve, will embrace the project financially.
The Corryong and Federal football clubs, which share the reserve, haven’t committed funding.
Mr Coysh said a Facebook page created since the demolition order had gone viral, with messages of support from as far away as Canada and Europe.
“They are most likely Corryong expats who identify with the building,” he said.
“It has got into trouble all its life and the last time anything major was done on it was in the 1970s.
“We know it can’t be done in stages and all issues raised need to be addressed.”