The big prawn in Berkeley is to be removed, much to the disappointment of its many fans. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHANWollongong City Council has been accused of being heartless and even shellfish, as it tries to remove the Berkeley Prawn.
But the council says the colourful statue – a looming two-metre-high crustacean made of tiles designed by local children in 1992 – has become dangerous in its old age and needs to be euthanised for the community’s safety.
The prawn may not be well known outside the southern Wollongong suburb, but nearly 1000 concerned Berkeley residents have taken to Facebook to express alarm over efforts to bin the shrimp.
‘‘I was one of those kids that put that awesome prawn together!!!!! Save the prawn!!!!!’’ Melissa Myers wrote on the social media page.
‘‘Kids of Berkeley designed tiles for this, it goes to show council has no heart for sentimental value among the Berkeley community,’’ Amy Pitt said.
Some people were surprised at the fervent outpouring of support for the statue – for instance, Wayne Castles ‘‘didn’t even know there was a prawn’’ – but hardcore prawn fans labelled it an ‘‘icon’’ and ‘‘the heart of Berkeley’’.
In all the excitement, John Holmes even got his seafood mixed up, saying, ‘‘We need this crab. Hands off our crab.’’
The council’s acting community and cultural development manager, Armando Reviglio, promised residents they were not getting a raw deal with the prawn’s removal, but said sharp tiles and needles inside its rainbow shell meant its days were numbered.
‘‘People are cutting themselves on the mosaics … We’ve tried to repair it a number of times but now it’s beyond repair,’’ he said.
‘‘And on a more unsavoury note, people are storing needles and things like that in it, so from a public safety point of view, it needs to be replaced.’’
He said it was not possible for the much-loved marine-dweller to be moved to Berkeley Harbour – as suggested by some residents – as its concrete foundations would crumble as soon as it was lifted.
Mr Reviglio said the council had spoken to residents about the prawn’s inevitable demise – including businesses owners, children at the skate park and shoppers and passers-by – and had already come up with a new art and seating project to replace it.
There would be more consultation in coming weeks to discuss what type of art works would adorn the new seats, he said, adding that the community might wish to incorporate some elements of prawniness into the new design.
‘‘There’s also a proposal for a ‘remembering the prawn’ project, so people can contribute stories and images of the prawn and that will be happening in the first week of June,’’ he said.
‘‘We knew it was going to be hard for some people to say goodbye, but with the safety in mind we have to remove it.’’
Mr Reviglio said Berkeley’s new seating and art installation would be finished by mid-June.
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