Why do I think the preservation of a working fifty-year old bluestone toilet block, in the face of its unnecessary replacement by a production-line designed one, so important that I can bring myself to promote a change.org petition to save it? Because somehow this blocky polylith has shown the capacity to unite us, where we can agree on little else. We live in a very atomised society, suburbanites here in Australia, victims of change and population engineering. People find it difficult to agree on complex politics, but the toilet block is an obvious example of something that does not need fixing, but that someone is fixing to fix. It should be too small for the council to fight us over it, but since the council intends to replace all bluestone blocks, stopping this would obviously frustrate a significant financial transaction. Someone is benefiting financially from this overkill, but not us.
Somehow the threatened removal of the sturdy bluestone toilets symbolizes important elements of our disempowerment. Some of these are our resentment at impermanence, our growing lack of local self-determination, lack of real consultation in favour of manufactured consent, industrial design over artisanship, synthetics over stone and trees, abuse of authority, planning facism, consumerism, delocalisation of decisions, spin replacing argument, and corporate beneficiaries taking over local employment and manufacture.
Our state-ruled local government has different values from many of the locals. These values are for the imposition of unnecessary new infrastructure of banal style and flimsy construction in place of something that anyone can see is durable and which has taken on the thermodynamic patina of age and locality – a sign that it belongs. Somehow this toilet block seems the right place to make a stand. See the petition here or republished below.
Retain & Refurbish Bluestone Toilets in Frankston
33 have signed. Let’s get to 100!
Frankston City Council plans to replace ALL bluestone toilets, rather than refurbish to make them compliant with new regulations.
The Seaford Community Committee (SCC) is supporting the many residents who have contacted us saying they do not agree with Frankston City Council’s plans to replace ALL bluestone toilet blocks with a new cheap-looking style. Together, a campaign has been launched to save bluestone toilet blocks in Seaford/Frankston, particularly on the foreshore.
Instead of demolition, please:
- retain & refurbish Frankston bluestone toilets (including those in the planning phase) to make them compliant with new regulations
- replace those already demolished
- include a shower or somewhere to wash sandy feet in refurbished toilet blocks
* the toilets can be made compliant - people don't demolish their houses to accommodate a wheelchair - they renovate
* only 1 gone so far - 2nd one is soon - others not planned for 2 years
We wish to express our strong disapproval of the decision to demolish ALL bluestone toilet blocks in Frankston and to replace them with entirely inappropriate and offensive alternatives.
Perhaps you could accuse us of doing a 'dunny spit', but the replacement block opposite McCulloch Ave is an expensive eyesore that should not be repeated elsewhere along the Frankston-Seaford foreshore. Indeed, we implore Council to reverse its decision and to reinstate the former bluestone toilet block opposite McCulloch Ave (as closely as possible to its original state), and terminate any plans to demolish and replace other remaining bluestone toilet blocks.
We understand that a need for disabled access is one reason cited for the decision to replace the bluestone toilet blocks. However, a cheaper and more desirable and effective alternative would have been to adapt the bluestone toilet blocks to meet this need by way of a (comparatively minor) internal alteration or external addition.
We have been contacted by many residents who feel the same. Together, a campaign has been launched to save bluestone toilet blocks in Seaford/Frankston, particularly on the foreshore.
- http://www.seafordcc.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=411 - Visit our Forum for more information and/or to download the paper version of the Petition to collect & return signatures
- http://candobetter.net/node/5476 - Opinion
- http://www.frankston.vic.gov.au/Your_Council/Media_and_Publications/Latest_News/Old_toilets_flushed_out - "Public toilets that no longer meet safety requirements are being progressively replaced with new facilities by Frankston City Council"
(Please only sign either this online petition or the paper version, so that we don't get duplicate names.)
In our view, the bluestone toilet blocks should be retained on heritage, environmental and economic grounds, as follows:
Heritage: the bluestone toilet blocks were built at least 50 years ago and form part of the collective experience and memories of families who have been enjoying the unique and distinctive bush-and-beach character of the Frankston-Seaford foreshore, often over two or more generations. More widely, the 'dunny' has a special place in Australian culture and the bluestone toilet blocks are arguably one of the best examples of seaside lavatorial architecture in the post-WW2 era. As such, the bluestone toilet blocks should be preserved as an important part of our local and national cultural heritage. Conversely, their replacement block opposite McCulloch Ave, Seaford has no architectural merit whatsoever and neither it nor any replicas will ever attain the iconic status of their bluestone betters.
Environmental: the scale and colour of the bluestone toilet blocks are in complete sympathy with the surrounding indigenous seaside vegetation, as they nestle below the main tree canopy and blend in closely with the typically grey-green trees and shrubs. Unlike their replacement block opposite McCulloch Ave, which is ugly and offensive to the eye, the bluestone toilets have no disruptive or deleterious visual impact on the attractive foreshore vista whatsoever. We are also deeply dismayed by the excessive and unnecessary removal of surrounding coastal banksias and other indigenous trees during and after its construction.
Economic: the bluestone toilet blocks are rock solid, low-maintenance and long-lasting constructions that require a minimal allocation of Council/ratepayer resources to maintain. They are largely immune to vandalism. Conversely, replacement blocks (e.g. opposite McCulloch Ave) involve an unnecessarily large outlay to construct and will undoubtedly attract vandals and generally be a more expensive facility to maintain.