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Byron Shire
April 19, 2021

Pandanus pods and public drinking – the Council decisions you probably never heard about

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Council meetings can be dry affairs, especially after the ‘big ticket items’ that attract dozens of locals to the gallery are finished and the meeting meanders off into the afternoon.

But while those of us still present start to think about what to cook for dinner, proposed policies, rules and regulations with the potential to impact our daily lives are discussed, debated and quietly passed into law.

The artist’s impression of Memento Aestates that was destined for Railway Park.

For instance, only the very keen-eyed council watcher will have noticed that over 100 new alcohol-free zones across the Shire came into being.

Now, granted it may not be that you are partial to a midday tipple on the frontal dune at Belongil Beach, but if you’re walking Ralph or fancy a sunset picnic on the beach on New Years Eve it might just mean a more peaceful eve.

Another quiet but important development was the council’s decision to appeal the recent Land & Environment decision over the tourist hotel development at 4 Marvell Street, Byron Bay.

On June 27 the Court upheld an appeal by the developer, giving it permission to increase the height and floor space ratio of the development above and beyond the current rules for the Byron CBD.

This is significant because at a time when developers are consistently pushing the envelope with development applications for this part of town, it sets a precedent for future proposals.

Council’s decision to fight on is a decision to fight overdevelopment, even if it costs tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

While news of the Disco Dong’s demise stole the show last week, there was another public art decision that barely rated a mention, even though it involves a greater financial expenditure.

Regular readers of Echonetdaily might remember the plan to build an $80,000 sculpture in the new-and-improved railway park (keep in mind that the Dong cost $55,000).

The sophisticatedly titled Memento Aestates was to be a brushed metal sculpture of a pandanus plant pod.

I say ‘was’, because the council has now quietly resolved to ‘remove’ the sculpture from the Railway Park plans.

Could the teetering shadow of the Dong be looming over this project? Are Council perhaps a little gun-shy about forking out for another piece of public art?

The answer is likely to be found in those late afternoon Council discussions at which the minutiae of Shire life is quietly determined.


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11 COMMENTS

  1. I am laughing while writing this, as my first reaction to the photo of the sculpture was ” not again!!”. I had not even read the text at that point. Please council peeps, just plant some of our wonderful flowering trees, that feed the birds and bees and offer an ever changing natural sculpture for all to enjoy. Big metallic sculptures can be amazing and i believe they are enjoyed best in big city settings.

  2. Hmmm, the only part of this sculpture that resembles anything like the Pandanus fruit which it apparently represents is its’ slightly oval shape. Maybe council would be better off with actual Pandanus trees in the park, or is that just too cheap and obvious?

    Props for the decision to extend the alcohol free zones. Hopefully adequate resources have been allocated for their enforcement otherwise they are just another of Councils tokenistic thought bubbles.

  3. I am laughing while writing this, as my first reaction to the photo of the sculpture was ” not again!!”. I had not even read the text at that point. Please council peeps, just plant some of our wonderful flowering trees, that feed the birds and bees and offer an ever changing natural sculpture for all to enjoy. Big metallic sculptures can be amazing and i believe they are enjoyed best in big city settings.

  4. I like to think that the reason for the backing out of the railway sculpture would be that the Dong swallowed all the public art money. The 52 k price tag is ridiculously low. Especially now with the removal cost added to that folly. I am dismayed to know that the PAP and Council did not abide by the public art policy nor best practice. Astounding to think that 12 members of the PAP let this go through. Whoever thought to have 12 members on a committee that meets only every 4 month and has no email voting rights. I suggest to bring that down to 5 made up of artists, art industry person, council person, engIneer and a community representative.
    Anyway what a shame that our first foray into public art has become such a shameful shamble.
    And please stop sending hate mail to the artist.

  5. As I previously asked the Chair of the Public Arts Committee, “why is Byron Council wanting to create expensive “art objects” that draw inspiration from nature? Is not nature itself art? And more life affirming as well?”
    This latest one looks like faux art to me.
    Hopefully the lesson of the Dong will not be forgotten quickly Councillors?
    Jim Beatson
    Byron Bay

  6. Others have said it, but it bears repeating
    In Byron Bay, we prefer real trees
    And we definitely don’t want metal sculptures.

  7. If council want a sculpture to represent byron bay, maybe they could install a giant parking metre, that has a police sniffer dog taking a piss on it….

  8. A culturally appropriate sculpture: A golden calf crapping on a goose laying a golden egg.
    It appears that Cl has already given the ‘pandanus’ sculptor $40,000 of the $$80,000, and that it will be re sited to one of the new Masterplan commercial areas (to the Masterplans “community”commercial redevelopment of the Lawson St south carpark has ben mentioned), or perhaps to the Masterplan proposed bulldozed and redevelopment of the combined First Sun caravan park/Lawson St North car park/Byron swimming pool complex,(Masterplan redevelopment of these sites listed as for “community purposes or cafes and other uses” (other uses – blocks of flats?).

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