Eleventh-hour plea to save Dimboola Hotel

STOP: Demolition of the Dimboola Hotel will be paused for two days to give former Dimboola resident Graeme Schneider time to rally support to save it. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

STOP: Demolition of the Dimboola Hotel will be paused for two days to give former Dimboola resident Graeme Schneider time to rally support to save it. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

A FORMER Dimboola resident has made an 11th hour bid to save the Dimboola Hotel as excavators demolish what is left of the fire-gutted building.

Benalla-based Graeme Schneider – brother of Hindmarsh Shire councillor Tony Schneider – said after a conversation with owner Paul Rintel and demolition contractors, the controversial pub would be given a short reprieve to try to rally community support to save it.

“This is absolutely last-minute,” Mr Schneider said. 

“There’s a Sunday deadline, so basically if no one else is interested it goes down.”

Mr Rintel bought the pub’s freehold for $1 in October 2004 – one year after it was gutted by fire. Despite his promises to renovate the building and court orders directing him to start work or demolish the pub, it has remained idle.

Magistrate Cynthia Toose threatened him with jail time if it was not demolished by July 30, 2014.

He told a court on July 30 fencing would be on site later that day.

Demolition work started last week.

Mr Schneider said saving the building would retain an important part of Dimboola’s character.

“I’ve floated this idea around a number of times for the past decade and it needs to happen,” he said.

“It’s an iconic structure for Dimboola – everyone knows it.”

Mr Schneider called on people interested in saving the pub to come forward.

“The thread of my proposal is to get a number of investors or interested parties prepared to put up some money,” he said. 

“Then, make the building safe, and from there use the next 12 months to assess what you do with it.” 

Mr Schneider said the building might still be demolished if that was the decision of investors.

He said he was unsure if there was community support to save the maligned building.

“Not being a local it’s difficult to ascertain,” he said.

“There are some in the community who think it should go.”

Mr Schneider said future options for the site would be open to discussion if the pub was bought.

He said if an initial investment could be secured, further investors could become involved through the internet.

“Crowd-sourcing through the web is an option that might be investigated,” Mr Schneider said. 

“It’s a matter of getting control of it and then the community can determine what happens.”

Mr Schneider said the demolition contractor had agreed to try to keep the facade intact until he gauged community support.

“This is the last throw of the dice effectively. Beyond Sunday it’ll be too late.”

Hindmarsh chief executive Tony Doyle said he was unable to comment on the latest developments in the ongoing saga surrounding the pub.

“Our request all along has been for the property to be made safe for the public,” he said.

DIMBOOLA HOTEL'S TROUBLED HISTORY

October 2003: A blaze destroys the iconic Dimboola Hotel.

October 2004: Melbourne man Paul Rintel buys the freehold to the hotel for $1.

2006: Mr Rintel tells Hindmarsh Shire Council of plans for a $550,000 redevelopment.

December 2006: Residents lobby council about the need for renovations.

February 2007: Mr Rintel agrees to start cleaning up the building after safety concerns are raised. He agrees to demolish the building within four to six weeks.

May 2007: Council gives Mr Rintel 30 days to demolish the hotel, threatening legal action if he does not comply.

July 2007: Mr Rintel ignores the demolition order and once again flags his intention for major renovations.

October 2007: Council resolves to start legal proceedings against Mr Rintel.

February 2008: Demolition works begin on the back of the pub. The facade remains untouched.

May 2009: Residents criticise Hind-marsh Shire Council over the state of the site of the partially-demolished hotel.

February 2010: Rintel is fined $10,000 and placed on a one-year good behaviour bond for dumping rubbish from the site at a nearby farm.

April 2011: Mr Rintel tells the Mail-Times renovations will cost $1 million and he hopes the pub will open in February 2013.

June 2012: Council approves redevelopment plans for the hotel.

February 2013: Horsham Magistrate’s Court orders Rintel to start work on the pub by the end of 2013. He is ordered to donate $5000 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

May 2013: A crane looms over the derelict building.

May 2013: The hotel building site fails a safety inspection.

July 2013: Horsham Magistrate’s Court orders the building to be demolished after court-ordered safety works are not completed.

November 2013: Horsham Magistrate’s Court issues an arrest warrant after Rintel fails to attend a court hearing. He has not completed court-ordered safety works.

March 2014: A magistrate warns Rintel he will face jail time if the hotel is not demolished by July 30.

August 1, 2014: Rintel tells a court demolition will be completed within two weeks. Magistrate Cynthia Toose adjourns proceedings until August 20.

August 4, 2014: Demolition contractors begin works. 

August 7, 2014: Mr Rintel and workers agree to pause demolition of the hotel to give Mr Schneider two days to rally support to save it.

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