Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

{"I Can't Think of a Bigger Act of Arson in the History of Grafton ... It's an Assault on the Community" - Alan Paterson} {Monday, December 15, 2008 $1}

Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

{"I Can't Think of a Bigger Act of Arson in the History of Grafton ... It's an Assault on the Community" - Alan Paterson} {Monday, December 15, 2008 $1}

Article excerpt

Byline: TIM HOWARD newsroom@dailyexaminer.com.au

POLICE investigating Saturday night's fire that destroyed the amenities block at Grafton Swimming Pool believe the blaze could have been deliberately lit.

It's a thought that struck a chord with Grafton Aquatic Centre's devastated lessee/manager Alan Paterson, who spent yesterday attempting to come to grips with the magnitude of the attack on the 52-year-old building.

"I feel like someone has died," he said as he stood in front of the gutted building yesterday afternoon.

"Even though Allura (his sister) and I run the business, we feel more like custodians. It's like I'm the captain and I've let the ship go down."

Mr Paterson is sure the attack was deliberate although he could not think of a motive.

"I can't think of a bigger act of arson in the history of Grafton," he said. "It's an assault on the community.

"There's no-one I can think of who had a motive to do this. There's been no incidents at the pool and no disgruntled employees."

The only bright spot in a tragic day for Mr Paterson, was the recovery of a bronze plaque commemorating the deaths of the 13 Boy Scouts who drowned in the Clarence River in December 1943.

"This pool was built in response to that tragedy," he said.

"The community raised the money to have the pool built so children could have somewhere safe to learn to swim.

"That memorial has been desecrated."

Yesterday, Mr Paterson was distraught when he could not find the plaque and was relieved when Leading Senior Constable Mark Griffiths, a crime scene investigator, found the scorched metal sheet with the boys' names engraved on it beneath the debris of blackened and shattered tiles.

On a financial level the cost to the Patersons could be just as shattering.

Mr Paterson will meet with Clarence Valley Council this morning to discuss the immediate future of the pool.

"The pool and the filtration plant is untouched," he said.

"But without toilets, showers and change rooms there's lots of OHS (occupational, health and safety) issues that need to be worked out."

The attack could not have come at a worse time for the Patersons' business with schools booking the venue out for Christmas parties in the next week.

"It's this week and the first couple of weeks back at school that pays for the rest of the year for us," Mr Paterson said.

The pool, with its waterslide, is a mecca for schools and families from all over the North Coast.

"We have schools from Casino, Alstonville and Woolgoolga who come here for the day," Mr Paterson said.

The building was also the headquarters of the Grafton District Services and the Grafton Amateur swimming clubs, which have lost most of their equipment and records in the blaze. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.