Church group buys Lismore RSL building
By SAMANTHA TURNBULL
HE HAD the community, media and governments on his side, but Merv King was missing one crucial ally when he bid for the Lismore RSL Club yesterday: God.
The mayor was outbid by the Lismore Revival Fellowship church group, which paid $870,000 to move from its Rous Road, Goonellabah, base to the Market Street site.
The Lismore City Council hoped to turn the defunct club into a community centre, with the support of Federal Member for Page Ian Causley, State Member for Lismore Thomas George, and a month-long campaign by The Northern Star.
However, Pastor Peter Miller said the fellowship had similar plans.
"It was hard because I really felt compelled to tell the council we have a lot of community-based plans for the building as well," he said.
"We're very interested in talking to any community group who would like to use the building.
"There will be a portion exclusively for us, but other parts of the building will also be available for community use."
Mr Miller would not say how the group raised the money, other than that the funds had come from within the fellowship.
Cr King, whose final bid on behalf of the council was $865,0000, said he was disappointed, but simply could not afford a higher amount.
"When you're dealing with ratepayers' money you can't go past a certain figure," he said.
"We tried very hard, but it was a judgment we had to make.
"We would have needed to spend a lot more money on work that needed to be done to the building to turn it into a community centre.
"We would have needed to put in a lift, disabled access and fix up the air-conditioning and roof."
Nine bidders were registered for the auction, but only one other offer was made, by Lis- more man Angelo Dagostino, whose final bid was $620,000.
Mr Dagostino did not reveal his plans for the site.
Auctioneer Peter Butcher would not publicly disclose the reserve price set on the building, but announced it was officially 'on the market' when bidding reached $850,000.
Mr Miller said he was very happy with the price the fellowship paid.
"We started looking at it a couple of weeks ago and we expected to pay a little more...we thought it would go for more than $1 million," he said. "We wanted to move into the market place and become more visible because we're a bit hidden away where we are now."
Mr Miller said the fellowship had no plans for major refurbishments of the building at this stage.
Community groups interested in using the building can call Mr Miller on 0414 512 784.