Just eight months after its striking edifice first emerged from the Bayshore Drive roundabout, the ‘Disco Dong’ has been consigned to annals of history by Byron Council.
In a unanimous vote at Thursday’s full council meeting, Councillors decided to decommission the structure and sell off the 5,000 individual metal birds which make up its construction in a bid to recoup some of the costs of the failed project.
‘A lot of lessons have been learnt,’ said Greens Councillor Sarah Ndiaye the chair of the Public Art Panel which selected the sculpture’s design.
‘It was fraught with difficulties from the start. There was no time to allow a full and proper process, installation could have been better managed… the artist better informed about our requirements.
‘They’re the kind of things you have to learn the hard way.’
The decision to decommission the controversial sculpture followed a recent investigation by an engineer which found significant structural and safety issues.
It is understood that these included the safety risks associated with people climbing the sculpture, stopping on the road to take selfies, and some underlying structural issues.
However, the exact nature of these problems are set to remain a mystery, with a bare majority of councillors electing to keep the report under wraps.
The meeting heard that the artist, Corey Thomas, had suffered significantly as a result of the controversy surrounding the sculpture.
‘I’ve never seen anything like it,’ Cr Ndiaye said.
‘He’s had to shut down his website. He’s lost his next two commissions and there’s been a serious impact on his mental health.
‘He’s suffered a crushing from this community.’
Labor Councillor Paul Spooner said the council needed to release the engineering report to put an end to the secrecy that had surrounded the project.
‘I don’t think when mistakes are made you bury your head in the sand,’ he said.
‘We can’t do things better when we keep a cloak of secrecy. It’s about the wider reputation of the Shire. We need to change the things we’re doing, to send a message to people that we’re above board.’
Councillors voted to sell off the 5,000 individual bids that made up the sculpture for $20 each.
The proceeds will go to covering the costs of decommissioning the sculpture, estimated to be between $11,000 and $13,000, with the remainder going to remediating the roundabout or a homelessness initiative.
A time frame for taking down the sculpture has not yet been set.