Online poll pans giant hat pergola

Crass, tacky, and an unnecessary waste of ratepayers’ money.
Nanjing Night Net

A proposal to build a hat-shaped pergola to honour Orange’s poet Banjo Paterson has been almost universally slammed by Central Western Daily readers.

As of Monday afternoon, 87.8 per cent of 303 respondents in an online poll said Orange City Council should abandon the hat pergola.

Just 12.2 per cent wanted the council to build the $30,000, five-metre-high monument.

Many of the reader comments objected to ratepayer funds being directed to the Paterson tribute, with several saying the money would be better spent on road repairs or efforts to improve employment prospects in Orange since Electrolux announced its closure.

But the man behind the pergola idea, councillor Chris Gryllis, is unswayed by the criticism and believes it could even be a selling point for the would-be tourist attraction.

“Quite often controversial things bring attention,” he said.

“If it becomes controversial, the more publicity we get out of it. We might have it on the national news.”

Cr Gryllis said people were free to express their opinions opposing the pergola, but he had received an encouraging response from ratepayers supporting the project.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” he said.

“It will serve a purpose and create an undercover area for people to enjoy a meal and it won’t be out of place. It won’t make anyone broke.”

The few favourable reader comments said the giant hat would put Orange on the map and could bring thousands of tourists to town.

Cr Gryllis believes there is still time for the pergola to be up in time for the Paterson festival in February.

Members of the public have 28 days to have their say about the pergola before councillors make a final decision.

Footing the bill for Banjo’s birthday

If Orange City Council decides to honour Banjo Paterson with a $30,000 hat-shaped pergola, it will bring the total spend for the poet’s 150th birthday celebrations to $187,000.

And the money is well worth it to celebrate the one-off event, according to councillor Chris Gryllis.

So far the council has budgeted $20,000 to improve Banjo Paterson Park and $10,000 to design a life-sized bronze sculpture of the poet.

Taste Orange was given $5000 to manage February’s 10-day Banjo Paterson Festival and last week the council agreed to give $5000 to the Rotary Club of Orange towards the official opening of the restored Emmaville Cottage.

The estimated $90,000 for the bronze sculpture and $30,000 for the pergola has not been budgeted.

The council is also yet to allocate funds for $7000 extra needed for the cottage restoration and about $20,000 for its landscaping. Cr Gryllis said Paterson deserved more than one monument.

“These bits and pieces bring people to that area. I don’t think it’s a waste of money … it’s not extravagant and it’s not overkill,” he said.

FEDORA UP: Councillor Chris Gryllis and mayor John Davis want to construct a giant Akubra to commemorate Banjo Paterson

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