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Byron Shire
June 15, 2024

Asset fire sale

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The historic, still heritage rich and vibrant community of Burringbar cannot afford to lose any more of its community assets. Fires in the town – the last in 1932 – plus unwarranted removal of other buildings of historical significance has depleted the town of much of its heritage.

Two remaining buildings are up for sale. One is the 102 year-old Anglican Church of St Michael and All Angels, a well maintained, beautiful, iconic building with its exquisite Georgian features. The second is the well patronised, much needed and equally well maintained Op Shop.

Both these buildings and the land they stand on ‘belong’ to the Anglican Diocese of Grafton But wait for it: the church and the op shop, formerly the Sunday School, were both built and paid for by the community of Burringbar on land given by a resident landowner at the time.

Through no fault of the Burringbar community, the diocese is in financial strife. As a consequence it is selling off our very valuable assets, which the community can ill afford lose. You may well say, ‘we giveth and giveth but they taketh away’.

The diocese has offered to sell the property to the community for $200,000. Hang on a minute – the community has already paid for everything. So now the community is in the unenviable situation where it is required to raise money to purchase it again.

Fortunately we have community-minded people who are willing to donate money to help with the re-purchase however more funds are needed. We are appealing to the general public.

It should be noted that it’s plain to see that the superb condition of the church building and the well-maintained Op Shop is a prime reason for both to be picked on for disposal. I’m sure that it was also assumed by the ‘powers that be’ that as the bulk of the congregation are getting on in years they wouldn’t put up a fight.

There are a number of uses for this beautiful church building: firstly to continue as a place of worship; a delightful meeting place for various community groups in aesthetically pleasing surrounds; an exquisite venue for weddings, choral recitals and chamber orchestras; as a venue for the veteran community’s healthy lifestyle pursuits (as we are an aging population); mens and women’s activities; displays of historical community memorabilia – the list goes on.

Obviously the Op Shop can continue to be run as a business – even more so to meet the increasing needs of so many families living within the area.

It has a reputation as being one of the best of it’s kind in the district. With the worldwide push towards localisation, sustainability and economically ‘happier’ lifestyles, villages such as Burringbar need to retain their community assets, their infrastructure, their heritage, their ‘social capital’.

Remember it was Martin Luther King Jr who once said: ‘Our lives begin to end the day we lose the things that matter’.

Phil Connor

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