Church to go

Southern Riverina news - - News - ~ Marissa Daly

A pro­posal to de­mol­ish St David’s Pres­by­te­rian Church in Tocumwal was ap­proved by the Ber­ri­gan Shire Coun­cil last month de­spite con­cerns it may be of lo­cal sig­nif­i­cance due to its size, age, de­sign, and cul­tural and re­li­gious his­tory.

A spokesper­son from the church com­mit­tee, David Gibbs, said the 100 year-old build­ing has ma­jor foun­da­tion flaws, is no longer safe to use, and is not fi­nan­cially vi­able for re­pair.

He said the church had not been in use for eight years with parish­ioners us­ing the hall, lo­cated be­hind the church, for ser­vices.

Mr Gibbs said the de­ci­sion had been ‘‘years in the mak­ing’’ and was ‘‘a very tough one’’.

‘‘It’s a del­i­cate mat­ter. Be­fore go­ing ahead we had to be sure ev­ery­one on the com­mit­tee agreed.

‘‘It’s a real pity to see it go, but real­is­ti­cally speak­ing it has gone be­yond us.’’

He said the clay foun­da­tion, which shrinks and ex­pands with the weather, has caused the build­ing to shift and split.

‘‘There are about 16 se­ri­ous cracks from top to bot­tom, some you could fit your arm in.

‘‘The in­te­rior is in dis­re­pair and an es­ti­mate to have the build­ing fixed was up­wards of $100,000, not in­clud­ing the foot­ings or the roof.’’

The SOUTH­ERN RIVE­RINA NEWS un­der­stands that coun­cil had sug­gested al­ter­na­tive op­tions to com­mit­tee mem­bers and would pre­fer to see the prop­erty sold to an in­di­vid­ual who has the fi­nan­cial re­sources and an in­ter­est in pre­serv­ing the build­ing.

How­ever, un­less there is sig­nif­i­cant com­mu­nity in­ter­est and ap­peals made di­rectly to the Tocumwal/Fin­ley/Ber­ri­gan Pres­by­te­rian Church Com­mit­tee of Man­age­ment, then the build­ing will be de­mol­ished.

Mr Gibbs said the com­mit­tee had looked at sell­ing the prop­erty but did not be­lieve they would get a good enough re­turn.

He ac­knowl­edged there would be com­mu­nity concern, but said many don’t ‘‘fully un­der­stand’’ the prob­lems in­volved.

‘‘It doesn’t mat­ter what we do, we will just have to con­tinue sink­ing money into it.

‘‘On ad­vice we have de­cided to de­mol­ish the build­ing and con­tinue with the block.

‘‘With the money we save we can re­place the church with one built on solid foun­da­tions, that will stand the test of time.’’

Mr Gibbs said the com­mit­tee was still un­de­cided about what will hap­pen to the pul­pit and pews from in­side the build­ing.

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