By Grace Jones | posted on February 24, 2019
DENMARK Machinery and Restoration Group member Ross McGuiness referred to the ongoing battle against the Spirit of Play Community School as similar to Don Quixote talking to the windmills.
The statement was made on Tuesday night before the Shire of Denmark voted unanimously to allow the school a lease extension of 15 years.
During question time, a number of historically minded residents aired their concerns on extending the lease of the school that resides in the Denmark Heritage Railway Station Precinct.
Mr McGuiness said during question time that the DMRG had concerns that if Spirit of Play were awarded a lease extension they would have “no intention of leaving”.
Denmark Historical Society member Brian Humphries said on behalf of the group that they strongly objected the proposal and said allowing Spirit of Play to remain for a further 15 years
would halt the preservation and renovation of the historical precinct.
“If council is to vote to allow this lease, we will take every avenue available to us under the Heritage Act and the Planning and Development Act to appeal the decision,” he passionately stated.
“The school looks like a ramshackle construction site with the barbed wire on the fences.
“This area has one of the last remaining pieces of railway history in Australia and it is a desecration of national heritage.”
Spirit of Play’s Zoe Car also spoke during question time to thank the Shire.
“It has been a long process to negotiate and to come to an agreement,” she said.
Councillor Ian Osborne said during debate on the item that Spirit of Play had received a “great deal”.
“I agree with some of the points made by the historical society in terms of the conservation of the railway heritage,” he said.
“If council votes to extend the lease I’ll wear it but I will regret the diminution.”
After some change in wording of the lease agreement to indicate that the Spirit of Play Community School would agree to pay for the restoration of the turntable and ash pit, council voted to allow the extension.