The phrases ‘council meeting’ and ‘thrilling spectacle’ are rarely used in the same sentence, but for local politics tragics like The Echo, the first full Byron Council meeting of the year offers just such a fusion.
The past few months have been eventful to say the least, and many of the highlights will be discussed and debated at this week’s meeting.
So grab your organic popcorn and get ready for a little ride.
High on the agenda at the meeting will be the debate over whether or not to dismantle that sculpture in the middle of the Bayshore Drive roundabout.
The staff report reveals that it would cost $45,000 (nearly the cost of the artwork itself) to put the glittering monster in storage and ‘rehabilitate’ the roundabout (counselling is required, it seems, after the trauma of hosting the disco dong).
Should councillors wish to reconstruct the sculpture elsewhere (the mind boggles…) the cost would balloon to between $96,000 and $120,000.
Staff also note that the artist responsible, Corey Thomas, has offered to return to finish the job as he: ‘views the work as incomplete and would like to finesse the presentation’.
‘He [Thomas] has indicated there are around 800 birds that could be added,’ staff note in the report.
It seems the most likely option is for the sculpture to stay where it is, something that council staff view with a dash of optimism, as demonstrated by the following comment:
‘The sculpture has received positive comment as well as negative. Over time it may come to be accepted as part of the landscape. Very few, if any, artworks are universally loved.’
On a slightly more serious note, this week’s meeting will also provide the best indication yet of what will become of the old Byron Hospital.
With the site now in council hands after the state government agreed to sell it for $1 late last year, attention will turn to the question of how it can best be used to serve the community without becoming an expensive millstone around our necks.
Speaking of expensive millstones… councillors will also debate plans for the future of Railway Park in the heart of the Byron CBD.
The redevelopment of the well-known patch caused huge headaches for council last year when it emerged that they planned to cut down a much-loved tree and remove the famous rotunda, home to the Byron Environment Centre, with barely a whisper of community consultation.
Council and the environment centre are still at loggerheads over the future location of the rotunda, though it appears the famous symbol of local activism will now have a permanent home somewhere in the park.
Council sources have told The Echo that the entire redevelopment plan has been placed on hold until this issue is resolved, so councillors will be under pressure to figure out a solution at the meeting.
Hovering in the background will be memories of the savage public backlash that came out when plans for the changes first emerged.
Prepare for some fireworks if the environment centre representatives feeling that justice is not being done.
In fact, just prepare for fireworks.