The Tweed Shire Council has given in-principle support to the construction of a Men’s Shed at the Black Rocks sports fields at Pottsville.
But concerns about koalas and vandalism dominated the debate.
The Pottsville and District Men’s Shed group identified the Black Rocks site as suitable after an extensive search of the area.
But with two recent stress-related koala deaths, and repeated vandalism at the site, some councillors were wary of backing the Black Rocks site because of its isolation.
Greens councillor Katie Milne was unsuccessful in moving a series of amendments attempting to explore other alternatives.
‘We have a koala population on the brink of extinction on the coast that needs to be our focus,’ she said.
‘We’re completing a sports fields strategy that will give us the chance to have a good look at the Black Rocks sports fields.
‘Black Rocks is just so out of the way. It’s not the activities of the Men’s Shed but what vandals could do.
‘Or if a fire got away it would set fire to the bush and that would be the end for the koalas in that area.’
Cr Phil Youngblutt was unconvinced.
‘Millions have been spent on that ground and we are short of sports grounds in the Tweed,’ he said.
‘It seems you’re trying to get that sports field closed and that’s irresponsible’.
Cr Michael Armstrong pointed out that it was not up to the council to locate a site for the Men’s Shed, while Cr Barry Longland said he could not support Cr Milne’s amendments because while he appreciated the concerns about koalas, ‘we’re not approving a Men’s Shed tonight’.
‘If a development application is lodged at Black Rocks it will include a review of environmental impacts and look at koala protection measures,’ he said.
‘We’re simply looking for an in-principle endorsement of this.’
Cr Gary Bagnall said he had visited the Black Rocks site and was concerned with vandalism.
‘I went last night and noticed the council sign which says “No Dogs” has been peppered with bullets,’ he said.
‘The council shed has had a piece cut out, star pickets have been taken out and they’ve peppered the shed with the star pickets.
‘Electrical wires have been ripped out and the water tank has been vandalised also.
‘It’s not a great location to put a Men’s Shed with all their stuff because it’s such an isolated place which could easily be vandalised.’
Despite the objections, a majority of councillors gave in-principle support to the Black Rocks site, but that support was not limited to that particular site.
Crs Milne and Bagnall voted against, while Crs Barry Longland, Warren Polglase, Phil Youngblutt, Carolyn Byrne and Michael Armstrong supported the motion.