THE Bass Coast Shire Council knocked back the gift of two disused wind turbine blades at last week’s council meeting.
The council resolved to not endorse the masterplan for the Guide Park project, and voted to retain the $45,000 originally allocated for the project in the Public Art Reserve Fund for another future public art project.
The council appears determined to stick with its election promise of being more financially conservative, after also opting against progressing the Cowes Cultural Centre plans and a new basketball facility for Wonthaggi.
Cr Stephen Fullarton acknowledged the council’s apparent lack of action in the first months of its tenure.
“This is our third council meeting where we’ve struggled to find money to do anything,” Cr Fullarton said.
In May 2016, two wind turbine blades were offered to the previous council following a visit with Vison Super, the owners of the disused turbine blades.
In the meeting last Wednesday, councillors voted against endorsing the masterplan for the Guide Park Wonthaggi and Wind Blades Creative Project, and instead will now send a letter of thanks to Senvion Australia for its in-kind support and for the offer of the decommissioned wind blades.
Given Wonthaggi’s connection with wind energy and the prominence of the wind turbines in town, the previous council accepted the gift of two decommissioned 42m blades.
The blades were to be used in a public art piece, to be tied in with the redevelopment of the Wonthaggi Guide Park. Detailed landscape designs for the Guide Park have already been completed, along with the creative art design for the blades.
To date, $5000 of the allocated $50,000 public art fund for 2015/16 has been spent on the project.
Deputy Mayor Cr Brett Tessari put forth a motion not to endorse the masterplan for the Guide Park Wonthaggi Wind Blades Creative Art/Play Project, and to not proceed with the wind blade public art installation project.
This is despite the previous council having already accepted the gift of the two wind blades, and spending time and money on a design process and community consultation.
“I haven’t spoken to anyone in the community who is for this project,” Cr Tessari said.
“I have real reservations about spending $2 million towards this down the track. We have so many other important projects coming up.”
The Deputy Mayor, who was in favour of the council spending up to $2 million for a new highball facility for Wonthaggi, was quick to reject suggestions that he is unsupportive of the arts.
“Let it be known that I am for art, and for local art. I’m all for supporting our local artists but this is just one that I can’t,” Cr Tessari said.
Bass Coast Mayor, Cr Pamela Rothfield, said the masterplan was grand in scale and not realistic for council at present.
“The cost estimates to complete the entire project range between $1.7 to $2.3 million, and we have a number of other priorities to consider right across the shire in the upcoming budget,” Cr Rothfield said.
“The wind blades alone aren’t considered suitable for a public play space without the supporting landscaping, therefore we have decided not to proceed with the art installation alone either.
“I would like to keep this alive for a little while longer,” Cr Michael Whelan said.
“I’ve actually spoken to some local artists, who felt that this was a worthy project. I am concerned that we are establishing ourselves as art critics.”
Cr Clare Le Serve suggested that the matter be deferred until further notice, to give councillors more thinking time.
“I think the Guide Park is a great asset for Wonthaggi, and I believe we do need a masterplan, whether the wind blades is a part of that,” Cr Le Serve said.
The motion to reject the gift of the wind turbine blades and to not endorse the masterplan for the Guide Park was won six to three, with councillors Fullarton, Larke, Tessari, Rothfield, Ellis and Kent voting in favour.
Only councillors Brown, Le Serve, and Whelan voted to keep the project alive.
Wind turbine art project knocked back by council