Sculpture given the shove before it gets the chance to shine
Some tongue-in-cheek alternative locations - and uses - have been flagged for Dorrigo's Water Cloud sculpture.
It hasn't even been built yet, but the benefactor behind the bold plan has indicated he would dismantle it if indeed it proved the majority of locals were against it.
The Dorrigo Heritage Defenders group has been formed to fight the proposal and have mocked up some images showing alternative locations and uses for the large, circular metal ring to be suspended on poles and lit up at night.
A new Pie Face store at Dorrigo has been criticised for being out of keeping with the town's heritage charm - a criticism some have made of the proposed sculpture.
The group has suggested Water Cloud is more in keeping with the 'tacky' new shopfront and has mocked up an image showing how it might look there (see main image).
Glen Little from the defenders group says the new store is a shiny new metropolitan addition.
"But it's a business on private property and at a service station - not an imposed gift for public land that the community has rejected in a legitimate consultation process."
An initial round of public consultation attracted 900 submissions against, and just over 100 for, the proposal, with hundreds more signing the 'Water Cloud Sculpture Won't Make it Rain Tourists' petition.
But Bellingen Shire Council Mayor Dominic King says the final survey, conducted in-person within the community, showed people narrowly in favour (177 for and 174 against).
The proposal was approved by all but one Councillor at their June 24 meeting. Mayor King, Deputy Mayor Jennie Fenton and Crs Steve Klipin, Garry Carter, Toni Wright-Turner were all for the proposal with Cr Steve Jenkins voting against it.
Nick Wright is the wealthy benefactor behind the proposal and says he was expecting controversy but not to this extent.
"Maybe it was temporary insanity or visions of grandeur. There have been times I've questioned it," Mr Wright said.
"I didn't expect everyone to say 'that's nice' but I was a bit surprised by the backlash."
Another option, put forward by the Dorrigo Heritage Defenders, is to use it as a flood indicator level.
"If the 'generous benefactor' wants to find an ecologically sustainable and reasonably close location to dispose of it, maybe it could find a second life as a flood level indicator in Grafton," Mr Little said.
"That would give the unconvincing 'water' narrative some serious clout with the added aspect of also looking like a life ring. With little alteration tie-off points for boats and hooks for life rings could be added to the three posts."