Pergola debate comes to a head

THE debate over a five-metre-high hat-shaped pergola proposed as a tribute to Banjo Paterson will come to a head at tonight’s council meeting when councillors decide whether to give the $37,840 project the green light.

The council opened it up to members of the public to have their say on the polarising pergola.

In 28 days, the council received 28 submissions against the project and only one in favour.

In his report to council, community recreation and cultural services director Scott Maunder also cited the 276 respondents who opposed the project and the 37 who supported it in the Central Western Daily’s online poll.

Several of the submissions opposed to the hat pergola questioned the “ocker” monument’s relevance to the poet, labelled it a waste of ratepayer money and also slammed the outdated, “crass” and “tacky” concept of “big” tourist attractions like the Big Banana and Big Pineapple.

“The man himself was rather shy and didn’t like to draw attention to himself and I feel that something so big and dominating the precinct would be a negative step,” Cultural Heritage Committee member Elizabeth Griffin said.

Historian Liz Edwards said the pergola would detract from Emmaville Cottage and would drive tourists away rather than act as a drawcard.

“It will be an expensive white elephant that will make Orange a laughing stock,” she said in her letter to council.

Graeme Tupper was the only person who wrote in favour of the pergola saying it was worth having, provided it was built close to the bronze Paterson sculpture proposed for near Emmaville Cottage.

“I personally believe that the hat is a great symbol and it will be very unique and create a great deal of interest for both locals and visitors,” he said.

The $12,840 pergola and about $25,000 for a barbecue and seats beneath it will be paid for by the council’s general fund if it is given the go-ahead.

Councillors will also have to decide on a location, with the Adventure Playground near Emmaville Cottage and Banjo Paterson Park potential options.

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