Heritage railway push gathers steam
A COMMUNITY group trying to save a 103 year old train station from demolition have been buoyed by the outcome of the recent council meeting.
The Glenreagh Railway and Station Preservation Society (GRASPS) have been working tirelessly to preserve the station and have built a business case for a lease which has been presented to both Australian Rail Track Corporation and Clarence Valley Council.
That work has now resulted in council resolving at their April meeting they will investigate the possibility of either CVC or GRASPS entering into a lease agreement with the ARTC and reporting back in July.
Passionate advocate for the station and President of GRASPS, Megan Casey, lives around the corner from the site and said while she was no "railway buff", she wanted to preserve the important piece of history.
"This station is over 103 years old and it has so much historic value, so many stations around the country have just been left to rot," she said.
"This is the last known standing wooden station left in the country."
Since presenting their case to council in March, the group have found a valuable ally in Cr Karen Toms, who put forward the motion asking council investigate possible lease agreements.
Cr Toms at the April Corporate Governance and Works committee said it was an important restoration being led by the community and council should not dismiss it as being to hard.
"If we have community members who are willing to step up, put their money in themselves and do the work to restore something as significant as this railway precinct, then we should do everything we can to investigate the possibilities," she said.
"It would be a terrible shame if that railway precinct was left to rot and ruin when we have a community who want to fix it up."
GRASPS have already secured a $10 000 loan and in-kind support from several people to assist in the redevelopment of the station, including two master builders, a welder, carpenter and concreter.
And the their business proposal also outlines their plan to tap into several different markets and capitalise on the site's unique heritage potential and make it a popular venue for heritage and rail enthusiasts.
David Murray was now very familiar with council after driving from Coffs Harbour to represent GRASPS at a number of meetings, often having to wait hours for his matter to be heard.
"I have been to Maclean three times now for the committee, heritage and council meetings," he said.
"It is so important to me because I want to carry this through and I thoroughly believe it is a worthy project."
"I would like to see heritage trains able to pull up at Glenreagh, that might be a fair way down the track, but Id like to see it."
Their plans include the possibility of opening the site up as a café or information centre, wedding venue, meeting place and museum and community space.