Rush job to save beach cottage
By Samantha Turnbull
The Byron Shire Council has ordered emergency repair work to a beachfront cottage believed to have heritage value.
Cr John Lazarus moved at yesterday's council meeting for a committee to be formed to deal with the preservation of Whites Cottage, on Crown land between the Clarks Beach Caravan Park and Clarks Beach Cafe.
Whites Cottage was constructed mainly from red cedar and sits where bullock teams swam cedar logs to waiting cargo ships in the early 1900s.
The council decided in 2002 to seek heritage grants for the abandoned cottage, with the intention of using the site as a tourist accommodation or multi-purpose facility.
However, nothing ever happened and the cottage has gradually begun to fall apart.
"We're letting it rot," Cr Lazarus said.
"There are at least half-adozen groups out there I know of who are keen to use the place for something."
Cr Lazarus said groups who had expressed an interest in using the building included the Arakwal people, the Byron Environment Centre and Clean and Green.
Former Byron Shire councillor Bob Higgins suggested about five years ago that the cottage should be turned into a surfing museum.
Mayor Jan Barham said the building's use was not the issue.
She said that before anything, the cottage needed to be repaired and she was amazed it had been left to deteriorate to the extent it had.
"What I can't sit comfortably with is the lack of action we have taken with this building," she said.
"We have a responsibility to protect it and we haven't done that.
"We are letting it rot and decay."
Councillors yesterday voted in favour of Cr Lazarus's motion, for the formation of a Whites Cottage committee.
However, Cr Ross Tucker spoke against the creation of a special committee.
"We do not need to start creating new levels of administration," he said.
"Establishing a committee in itself won't solve the problem."
Cr Richard Staples also put forward a foreshadowed motion for emergency roof repairs to be carried out with council funds.
The foreshadowed motion