LOO DEBATE: Julian Terrace toilet block divides council

THE Julian Terrace toilet block’s impending demolition continues to divide the Gawler Council chamber. PHOTO: Liam Phillips

GAWLER Council will continue with the $94,000 demolition of the toilet block on Julian Terrace, despite calls for it to stay and be refurbished.

As part of the $2.2 million upgrade of the Walker Place-Julian Terrace precinct development, the existing toilet block will be demolished, with another to be built closer to the Apex Park playground.

The toilet block’s demolition is set to cost around $94,000, with council to retain the existing art mural on the eastern wall while knocking down the rest of the building.

At a special meeting last Tuesday, councillor Jim Vallelonga presented a motion to keep and upgrade the existing toilet block, rather than spending money to partially demolish it and build a new facility.

Gawler Council has already received a $262,000 State Government grant to complete the new ablution block, with the motion calling for the money to be paid back.

Cr Vallelonga said moving the toilet block away from the upgraded Walker Place area, which is set to host more community events, lacked sense.

“Around $1.5 million has been spent on Walker Place already. If we want to hold events there, why are we moving the toilets to the other end of the street,” he asked.

“I don’t know if it’s going to be any cheaper, it might be, but if someone is holding an event there (at Walker Place) they are going to use local pubs if they need to go to the toilet.”

Cr Vallelonga’s motion was lost after elected members voted 4-4, with Mayor Karen Redman using her casting vote to rule against the motion.

Councillor Paul Little agreed and said his own inquiries had shown businesses preferred for the toilet block to stay in its current place.

“Especially if we’re going to use Walker Place for things like the (Adelaide) Fringe. The local cafes are worried they’ll lose clientele because of the toilet block being moved,” he said.

“We were going to move the mural anyway for some exorbitant fee and put it on a wall anyway, so the financial difference wouldn’t be that great anyway.”

Gawler Council infrastructure and engineering services manager Sam Dilena confirmed the council would save the $94,000 by keeping the existing block, but it would be absorbed by refurbishment costs.

He said there was “risk” for the council in supporting an upgrade to the existing toilets, as grant money had already been organised with the State Government and the project is required to be finished before the end of this year.

Councillor Cody Davies, speaking against the motion, said putting the toilets closer to Apex Park would be a win for families.

“The main thing for me is I think Apex Park is a valuable place and whenever I go past I see families there with their kids,” he said.

“It’s especially important when you have young kids to have a nearby toilet that’s within visual range.

“If you have three kids and one of them has to wander off; I think most parents would prefer a toilet block which isn’t a kilometre out of the way.”

Sam Bradbrook

@sambradbrook

Sam Bradbrook joined The Bunyip in 2018 as a reporter and covers the Gawler, Playford and Adelaide Plains Council rounds. He graduated from the University of South Australia in the same year with a Bachelor of Journalism and Professional Writing and had previously interned at the Jakarta Post in Indonesia and The Courier in Mount Barker before moving to Gawler. In February of 2020, Sam was named the Young Journalist of the Year for 2019 by Country Press South Australia. He is interested in reporting on politics, healthcare, police and social issues and outside of work has a passion for sport and music.

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