TOCUMWAL residents were divided on Tuesday night over plans for a new visitor information centre proposed for the Murray River town.
More than 100 packed the town's RSL sub-branch in response to a public meeting called by the Tocumwal Chamber of Commerce.
Plans for the two-storey premises to replace the existing tourist hub include establishing a fine dining restaurant on the top floor.
There was concern the town could not support such a venture and that the design for the building conflicted with nearby heritage premises.
Resident Marion Kapp said: "The building at first glance is pointy and it's ugly ... this is a colonial town and that is at odds with it".
Visitor information centre volunteer Gail Horan questioned why the design could not be heritage at the front and "ultra modern at the back".
Lifelong resident Murray Haynes, 84, said if Tocumwal wanted to be part of tourism between Albury and Mildura then it needed to move with the times.
Joan Escott compared the process to that which saw Sydney Opera House architect Joern Utzon depart Australia, saying he was ostracised but an icon had been created.
On the eatery, Wallace Beveridge said: "I can't see a five-star restaurant working in Tocumwal at all ... it would go broke in six months."
But Tocumwal Lions Club Hostel manager Fran Hatty said she would "love to see a great tapas bar".
Alice Stewart said the existing four hotels offered similar menus and she would appreciate the opportunity to have "a decent, nice meal, not just a steak or parmi".
The new $1.6 million tourist information centre is the brainchild of the Berrigan council, which has received NSW government funding for it as part of a Murray River tourism project also including Albury and Federation councils.
Mayor Matt Hannan said the council had considered a heritage design but felt it would be "an undesirable outcome".
A development application for the project is expected to be lodged in the next three months.