LETTER OF THE WEEK | Save the shire's oldest building

Lost opportunity: The cottage known as Gunyah, is believed to date back to the 1870s and to be the shire’s oldest building.

Lost opportunity: The cottage known as Gunyah, is believed to date back to the 1870s and to be the shire’s oldest building.

Re the article “Cottage left to go to ruin” (Leader, March 15).

I commend Councillor Ray Plibersek’s suggestion that Sutherland Shire Council’s general manager liaise with TAFE and other institutions to see if they are interested in aiding the restoration of the shire’s oldest building. 

Some years ago, my wife and I made this same suggestion to council.

Other voluntary heritage assistance was offered at the same time. We received no reply.

We had a particularly striking example in mind.

In 2010, during a meeting of heritage specialists in Sweden, we were taken to see a restored bathing pavilion in the town of Varberg.  It was built of timber in a romantic Moorish style in 1902.  The restoration of the complicated wooden fretwork was all done in local technical schools by trade students.

But even if TAFE involvement is not possible here, we are talking about restoring a modest timber cottage and repurposing it.  We are not talking of funding a moon landing.

Although respecting and restoring its historic fabric will come at a price, the local community could nominate various adaptive reuses for the building.

Yes, there will be ongoing costs.  That is what we pay rates for.

Mayor Pesce says that as a carpenter he “understands” how much it would cost to restore the cottage.  Presumably he also “understands” what happens when crucial repairs are not done in a timely fashion.

Sometimes the buck has to stop with the carpenter in charge.

Our local heritage is more than Captain Cook and Kurnell, it is what we as a community want to preserve for posterity.  It seems abundantly clear that a great many shire residents want this building kept in council hands to ensure its protection.

We don’t want it privatised because of the ideological obsessions of current councillors.

They will not be forgiven if this building suffers demolition by neglect and is sold for a ‘knock-down’ price.

Dr Edward Duyker, Sylvania

In response to the recent article about the shire’s oldest building to be sold to the highest bidder by Sutherland Shire Council.

It is another example of blatant disrespect for our heritage and the youth that are growing up here today.

Even our Deputy Mayor, Peter Scaysbrook, doesn’t support the sale. Once again, the opinions of the shire’s locals appear irrelevant in the decisions made by the money-hungry, office holders of our council.

Surely I’m in the majority in my support of Cr Ray Plibersek’s suggestion to work with TAFE trainees to restore the late Thomas Holt’s former cottage and hand it back to the public for a glimpse of our heritage.

How else will the story of our region be preserved forevermore?

Jennifer  Hoffmann, Caringbah South

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