Lismore Lions fountain looks likely to escape destruction
GRASS roots efforts by a coalition of local Lions clubs to save the Lismore Lions fountain are set to be rewarded with Lismore City Council now recommending the hallowed monument be preserved and fully restored.
Councillors will vote next week on what to do about the fountain outside Lismore City Hall which had fallen into disrepair and was set to be demolished.
In light of the occasionally bitter community campaign against that plan, the council has reversed its original position with council staff formally supporting the fountain's restoration.
The recommendation is that Lismore keeps the fountain plus gets a new public art project originally slated as part of the city hall redevelopment.
The proposal for the new art is for six concrete pedestals weighing about a tonne each inlaid with mosaics designed by local artist Scott Harrower telling the story of Lions in Australia.
The pedestals will be placed in the grassed area outside the City Hall on Molesworth St.
The entire project is expected to cost $128,000, which includes a full restoration of the fountain for an estimated $42,000 plus another $74,000 for the six pedestals and mosaic work.
The Lions district has raised $67,000 which will contribute to the project in full, with Lismore City Council to pay for the remainder out of leftover funds from the city hall redevelopment.
But the campaign to save the fountain is not quite over, with Lismore City Lions president Nancy Casson still pushing for the monument to be heritage-listed.
Ms Casson said she was sceptical about the council's ability to properly maintain the monument despite $5000 being budgeted for its maintenance each year.
"My biggest concern is if it doesn't get heritage-listed we'll be in the same position we are in today... in 15 to 18 years," Ms Casson said.
"The fountain has belonged to the council since 1967, it was gifted to the council, and they have basically done nothing."
"Heritage listing will provide government funding for it to be preserved into the future."
The council's executive director sustainable development Brent McAlister said the fountain would go into the assets register and the $5000 would be included in the forward budget specifically for ongoing maintenance.
"The community has demonstrated how important the fountain is to them, and if the proposal is successful, this budget will ensure that it remains a proud part of Lismore's cultural heritage," Mr McAlister said.
Built in 1967, the fountain was a joint Lions project which celebrated Lismore's role in the founding of the first Lions club in Australia in 1947.