At stake is the erection of “a magnificent” four-metre high bronze sculpture by internationally renowned peninsula artist Andrew Rogers.
The sculpture was to be “gifted” – at cost-price of about $100,000 – to the Flinders community to commemorate the town’s 150th birthday and a site in the middle of a roundabout at the intersection of Cook and Wood streets had been agreed upon.
A town hall meeting in March voted in favour of the proposal, funding was pledged by members of the local community, and approval from VicRoads was granted on the basis the sculpture met the various requirements for siting on a roundabout.
But rumblings from both within and outside of the FCA of began to build, culminating in official objections being tabled with the shire council and association board.
The shire’s statutory planning manager, Angela Hughes, said an application proposing “the erection of a sculpture with associated flood-lighting on the roundabout at the corner of Cook St and Wood St in Flinders” had been submitted to council for consideration.
Following advertisement of the proposal, 38 objections including a petition containing 145 signatures had been lodged with the council.
The objections complained the sculpture was “not compatible with the character of Flinders and there should be further community consultation with a range of submissions sought”.
The FCA website says that at the March meeting, which was attended by about 90 people and chaired by Cr David Gibb, “the sculpture itself was seen as something special with no criticism of it at the meeting, as those who spoke against the gift being almost all concerned about the process and/or where it was proposed to be sited”.
“A number preferred it to be put in the park – which, as was pointed out by the chairman, posed additional planning hurdles with our main park being subject to a heritage overlay,” the FCA report states.
But it seems objections have broadened, with some members of the FCA saying the issue had divided the association, with numerous “sub-plots” emerging.
All eyes will now be focused on what shapes as a “riveting” showdown at the FCA meeting on Saturday 21 June.
However, any decisions reached may be irrelevant, with the final decision resting with the council, VicRoads – and the artist himself.