Thursday 14 August 2008

Council demands retention of Yacht building

Around 100 people attended a lunch-time rally in Cairns yesterday, organised by People Against Demolishing the Cairns Yacht Club (PADYC).

Bryan Law addressed the rally at ANZAC Park and spoke about what happened to it when the casino was developed.

Ian Cole spoke about 'Harbour Blight' as the first example of Cityport to be developed. "There are eight more like this building to come along this waterfront," he warned the audience.

The rally walked from ANZAC Park to the Cairns Port Authority building, along past the Yacht Club building in Wharf street, where the gave the grand old building 'three cheers' as they passed her. It was also an opportunity to see what has been done to Trinity Wharf.

When the marches arrived at the Port Authority office, the CEO refused to come out and address the rally. He sent out someone who was not good enough. Dave Good, manager of security and emergency, an appropriate title for a meeting to save a historic building I think.

Cairns Regional Councillor Di Forsyth, a staunch supporter of the campaign to save and protect the building spoke about why the Yacht Club building must become a community facility.

The Port Authority were very nervous about the rally. It's public relations with the community is being seriously damaged by it's arrogance and defiant aggressive attitude. At a meeting last week, they showed how they are treating the people of Cairns with utter contempt. Referring to those that enjoyed and danced at the Cairns Yacht Club over the last 100 years, chairman of the Cairns Port Authority, Clive Skarrott "I've enjoyed the place over the years as well. We will all be dead in 20 years so why save anything?"

Police were called and guarded the main doors at the Port Authority offices. The model of the proposed Cityport development along the waterfront of Trinity Inlet, was moved outside for the occasion. They didn't want any members of the public inside the foyer.

The assembled Rally was unanimous that they wanted the Yacht Club building to be refurbished and retained on its present site, and concluded by giving Wendy Richardson and the organising committee support for the ongoing campaign.

Councillor Forsyth will organise the Cairns Regional Council. "This old building cannot be moved effectively, and the cost of restoration will be huge for the community. It should be retained where it can be architecturally enhanced," says Forsyth. "A community trust can manage and fundraise for this purposed so the entire community can enjoy it for the future," she told the rally.

The process of title search is under way, and it’s clear that Cairns Ports has been changing and executing leases over the Yacht Club land over the past five months. We’re trying to find out who the preferred developer is.

It's fair to say that the rally gave all participants hope and empowerment.

Here's PADYC co-ordinator Wendy Richardson and Cairns Regional Councillor Di Forysth, which shows one of the appealing things about this fight to save the historic building - diversity and the ability to work beyond the conventional boundaries of politics.

PADYC have formed a legal committee to prepare statements and information relating to the lost heritage listing. They have accessed documents through Freedom of Information applications to view details of what happened. It will be interesting to learn why the then chairman Professor Brannock, voted the motion it down, in the face of his public announcement and the Assessors reports, which clearly recommended the building satisfied one or more criteria.

There are also matters of the EPA, the Wet Tropics Plan that indicate that at one stage the Government Departments involved were preparing it to be made a Heritage site. EPA paid for a survey for this purpose. PADYC also believe that the Port Authority requested and got the Certificate of Immunity because they knew another nomination would win hands down.

Barron River Labor MP Steve Wettenhall and Desley Boyle, who has been at the forefront or opposition to saving the building for the last five years, have announced that they will provide $150,000 towards the building's relocation, however the community wants it to be incorporated in the CityPort development and retained on the same site where it has been for 104 years.

The fight to save this grand old building has brought out hundreds of stories and information which will enable our community to nominate it for National Heritage as well. 7,000 have now signed the petition to retain the Cairns Yacht Club building.

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