Church under threat

By KATE McINTOSH

IMPOSING Coolangatta landmark St Augustine's Catholic Church has come under increasing threat from developers, eager to capitalise on its sought after location. Parish priest Father Kevin Smith said the elevated block on Mclean Street was highly prized by developers with the church regularly pressured to sell. Adding to the pressure is the high cost of maintaining the 80-year-old landmark, which in recent years has fallen into disrepair. To offset the high costs ? expected to top more than half a million dollars, the parish community is spearheading a fundraising campaign, culminating in a July benefit concert. "In the end it (repair costs) comes back to the parish. It's not easy," Fr Smith said. The church's regular 200- strong congregation are attending services at St Monica's at Tugun while repairs are ongoing. The first stage of the threepart refurbishment, which includes roof, painting and ceiling works, is expected to be complete later this month, when the church will re-open. Additional landscaping works, as well as extensions to the existing car park will follow later this year. The Italian Romanesque-style church, built in 1926 today remains a popular wedding venue. Tweed golden couple, Television personality Natalie Gruzlewski and former pro surfer Luke Egan exchanged vows at the church in February. For tickets to the benefit concert at St Augustine's Catholic Church on July 15 or to make a donation towards restoration works call the parish office on 5598 2165.



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