A determined community, an offer of free rocks, and a creative concept mean Bangalow’s broken weir may soon be a beautiful new addition to the town rather than a crumbling, neglected artefact from the past.
The weir, which was built by determined community volunteers in the 1920s, was first breached in 2010 and its condition worsened to the point that Byron Shire Council fenced it off last year, warning it had become a dangerous eyesore.
Two public meetings later, and it is clear that some of the community spirit that drove those first townsfolk to build the weir was still evident.
The first meeting in 2012 heard from a local engineer, Tony Baggio, that the job could be done for less than $100,000.
After 12 months, another report from WBM provided a series of options with escalating price tags.
A second meeting decided to support the option of repairing the weir to a height of 0.9 metres (just below the concrete floor of the kids’ pool) with a rock fishway (pictured).
Even this option comes at a cost of around $290,000.
Spokesperson for the Bangalow Weir Group, David Pont, told Echonetdaily, ‘the highway construction firm Baulderstone has now made a firm offer of rocks for construction’.
Local civil engineer Chris Taylor has also completed a concept design, pictured, which has now been submitted to Byron Shire Council for consideration.
As a result of these community contributions the cost is expected to be far less than what has previously been predicted for actually removing the entire weir, but Mr Pont told Echonetdaily, ‘there is substantial disillusionment in the Bangalow community about the time this has taken’.
Money remains the sticking point.
‘How much can Council contribute?’ asked Mr Pont.
Not much, if Byron mayor Simon Richardson’s comments at the last community meeting in April are anything to go by.
Then, the mayor said that the weir’s time had come and that a ‘return to natural flows’ (weir removal) was the only sensible and cost-effective option.
He said that while he understood the fond memories people had of swimming carnivals at the weir pool, those days had gone and Council would be better to focus any funds it had on a new heated pool at the Bangalow sports ground.
Mr Pont said grants are being investigated and he remains upbeat about the weir’s chances.
‘All going well it is planned to do the work in the spring when the creek flows are low.
‘The weir and its pool are also being viewed in the context of the entire beautiful park and how it can be made better for future generations,’ he said.