Wednesday, September 3, 2008


All photographs by Christine Stickley
(Jon Dee middle front)

Jon Dee, well known environmentalist and founder of the Wentworth Falls based Planet Ark has added his support to that of the National Trust for the campaign to save the Mechanics Institute Hall in Lawson, knowing that the 105 year old hall listed by the National Trust is under threat of demolition.
Jon says:
Given that demolition is not required by the RTA to widen the highway next to the hall, I strongly question the reasoning of the BMCC Councillors who voted to demolish this wonderful community hall. The simple fact is we can have the highway and the hall.
Documents show that the RTA offered to move the highway and re-locate the hall portico at no cost to ratepayers. Why do Councillors seem to be ignoring this? A report was also prepared on grant funding possibilities for the hall but it appears that Council and Councillors have taken no proactive and positive action on this front to ensure a sustainable and well funded future for the hall
Council should be thinking more logically about the needs of the community. The Blue Mountains is sadly lacking in decent sized hall spaces for the performing arts and other uses. Why go to so much trouble to knock down existing facilities, especially one such as the Lawson Hall which is centrally located and just five minutes walk from a rail station? How is this extraordinary and historic building in Lawson going to be replaced? Councillors haven't said anything about the costs associated with that.
Jon says:
I am confused as to why Councillor Chris Van der Kley has voted for demolition of the hall while announcing in his election brochure that he is 'committed to preserving the cultural and natural heritage of the Blue Mountains.' Surely this building is one of the significant cultural heritage sites in the mountains? I call on Councillor Van der Kley to change his position and to join me in publicly campaigning to save the hall.
Planning Minister Frank Sartor should stop the nonsense surrounding this issue once and for all. He needs to ensure that the alternate RTA plan, which includes the relocation of the hall portico, goes ahead. He then needs to put the hall on the State Heritage register so that we can preserve this old building for future generations of Australians.

One of the better looking regulars at the vigil ( Toby)

photographs by Christine Stickley