Nowra should be a proud navy town. So much of our history – both triumph and tragedy – is tied up with this arm of the defence force. That’s why we believe the iconic helicopter should stay put in its proud position on the Princes Highway at the gateway to the city.
We welcome a foreshadowed motion by Cr Greg Watson to excise the parcel of land of which the helicopter sits from any possible sale of the site that sits on the corner of the highway and Pleasant Way.
We are with the community, which on our website and Facebook page overwhelmingly expressed its wish to have this important piece of history stay right where it is.
Cr Watson wants the excised land classified as community land so it can continue to display navy aircraft into the future. This, he argues, is to recognise the contribution the navy and its personnel have made to the city.
He also wants provision made to protect the historic Graham Lodge that is covered by the site over which council has called for expressions of interest. The first two-storey building in Nowra, Graham Lodge is equally important in our history and should be preserved. Its descent into a state of neglect is a point of municipal shame. It is a fine building of which we should all be proud. It has the potential to become an important city asset.
Successive councils have drawn up plans for the precinct around Graham Lodge and opposite the council building on the highway. One former councillor, John Anderson, even planted trees with the view to some of the land becoming a botanical garden. Many of those have grown but, sadly, the ground around them is generally overgrown and unkempt.
Cr Watson’s motion also calls for a review of the success or otherwise of the outgoing council’s decision to move the Visitor Information Centre from this site and plonk a diminished version of it in the entertainment centre. After the review consideration should be given to retaining the site and acquiring land around it to provide a green space corridor down to the river.
The move to secure the helicopter site, protect Graham Lodge and review the Visitor Information Centre move is one of two departures the new council is making from the old. The other is Shoalhaven Mayor Amanda Findley’s decision to open her diary to the public so everyone can see who she is meeting, including developers.