SECURING the Olympic rings for Goulburn should not be such a hurdle, says Tony Lamarra.
Twelve years ago he had all the boxes ticked, the former Goulburn City Mayor told the Post.
This included Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) approval to display the 70 metre by 40m structures and a letter from manufacturer Kermac Engineering gifting the structures to the city.
“The AOC said we could put them up as long as it wasn’t for commercial purposes,” Mr Lamarra said.
“We even had in-principle approval from the RTA (Roads and Traffic Authority.)” Mr Lamarra was commenting following DME Engineering boss Don Earle’s offer last week to donate the rings, which adorned the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 2000, to Goulburn.
The only condition is that his firm mounts the structures, at the successful party’s expense. Ongoing maintenance is also the new owner’s responsibility.
Mayor Geoff Kettle said on Friday he was happy to write to the AOC seeking permission but foresaw problems in displaying them for commercial purposes.
The cost could also be a stumbling block.
But Mr Lamarra said their display was not a problem.
“We got the approval because we were looking at it more as a community project,” he said.
Offers of help had poured in back then. Someone promised 150 cubic metres of cement to mount the rings on a rise overlooking the freeway near south McDonald’s.
A Cowra engineer offered his expertise, Divall’s Earthmoving promised free excavation to the value of $20,000 and numerous businesses pledged cash donations.
Menduni Garden Artistry offered columns, while Robert Rampton and his partners were keen to construct a building for educational purposes near the rings.
Sculptures of athletes were planned for a walkway on the hill leading up to the rings.
Moreover, an arrangement was struck for jail inmates to maintain the steel structures.
A committee, including Mr Lamarra, Mayor Max Hadlow and former Goulburn Post editor John Thistleton was formed to lead the push, which won national media attention.
But Mr Lamarra said Council scuttled the whole plan because it was concerned about maintenance. It held the whip hand because it owned the land.
Legally, he contends the committee still owns the rings, courtesy of Kermac Engineering boss Ken Fazakerley’s letter.
“Someone has to grab the reins and say ‘let’s look at this again very seriously if we want something that will benefit Goulburn’,” Mr Lamarra said.
“I think we can get people motivated again, but we need positive people. If we want to see Goulburn go ahead we have to stop the negativity.”
Following Monday’s Goulburn Post article about DME Engineering’s offer, Mr Lamarra said he received several phone calls from local individuals and business pledging help.
But Cr Kettle said correspondence from the time spelt out a $6 million fee if Goulburn wanted to display the rings, which he described as unaffordable.
“I have people searching the archives and records,” he said.
“I’m happy to go through the records and see what’s there but we would most likely have to go through the whole process again. It would only be common courtesy to the AOC because things have changed since 2001.”
The Mayor pointed out the rings’ owner had not formally approached Council about donating the rings to Goulburn.