The future of Kingston’s beloved Larry the Lobster is uncertain as owner Casey Sharpe puts him up for sale.
Kingston District Council CEO Andrew MacDonald said that the council would like to see Larry relocated to the foreshore where he could be better utilised. He said currently the giant lobster is a hazard according to a recent engineering report and requires between $150 – $200K worth of work to refurbish him.
Larry currently requires a fence around him at all times and the burden of repair work will fall onto the new owners.
Mr MacDonald said the council would put money towards the refurbishment of Larry, as they have done with the Cape Jaffa Lighthouse, if he were able to be moved to the foreshore and thus attracting more tourists through the main streets of Kingston. He said the report confirmed that Larry would be able to be relocated.
He said signs could be put up that direct visitors through the town and would add to the council’s vision of making Kingston a thriving tourist destination, and that having Larry there was a “strong project for economic benefit”.
Councillor Rick Wingard said he understand the predicament owner Casey Sharpe is in, but would also prefer to see Larry relocated.
“The thing is I can understand Casey doing what he is doing - to attract a buyer. But it would be good to relocate him down on the foreshore somewhere so we can have signage to draw people through the town to view,” Cr Wingard said.
“I think with our beautification program if we can get the lighting and make Kingston look alive at night I’m hoping it will entice people to come through the town as a scenic drive.
“I think Andrew’s idea to relocate him is ideal - where he is, it only takes people two seconds to stop and take a photo and the town doesn't get any benefit.
“It may entice people to travel into the business part of the town.”
Mr MacDonald said there were plenty of opportunities if Larry were to be moved to the foreshore – with potential plans of landscaping a play area below him to attract families to stop.
Owner Casey Sharpe said that moving Larry the Lobster to the foreshore is not out of the question, but he’s not willing to give up the giant icon free of charge.
He said having the giant lobster adds value to the land and restaurant, which he is now currently trying to sell, and removing him leaves him short and at a disadvantage.
He said the council is too ambitious with their plans for Larry and that he should be refurbished in his current location, and that funds raised through the GoFundMe page earlier this year for his refurbishment should be put towards his restoration.
“I think the funds need to be used immediately on Larry… $30K would give him another 35 years or so,” he said.
He said if council offered to buy the lobster he would be more supportive of his relocation.
“I think it’s worth money – it needs to be! What’s the restaurant be worth if Larry the Lobster is gone?” Mr Sharpe said.
“Council are claiming that it’s a liability, so [selling the land without Larry] would be worth more, and its like, no its not, it just needs a $30K refurbishment and we’re back to square one.”
He said that a recent engineering report deemed it was necessary to have a barricade around Larry due to safety issues.
“We’re supposed to have a barricade around him because council see him as a liability.”
“It’s only because they want to take possession of Larry and relocate him into town, they want me to give Larry to them for nothing.”
Mr Sharpe said that for him, the best-case scenario is for someone entrepreneurial to take on Larry and restore him to his “former glory”, and use him with the restaurant.
“He needs an entrepreneur to come in and spend what they pay for it, on it, to get it back to it’s original status,” he said, saying he’d prefer to see Larry stay put as opposed to having him relocated. Mr Sharpe has owned Larry for ten years, and said lately it’s been an ordeal. He said between council wanting to relocate the lobster and trying to sell the land, he’s found himself between “a rock and a hard place.”
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