Park upgrade 'stuff-up'
Bangalow Chamber of Commerce fears the town is getting its own ‘Lighthouse Road’, claiming the upgrading of Heritage Park has turned into a ‘monumental disaster’.
President Michael Malloy said the chamber was appalled that a relatively straightforward job had left Bangalow with a ‘half-finished pile of rubble in the middle of the main CBD’.
Mr Malloy said it was causing considerable inconvenience to local residents and visitors and distress to businesses ‘trying to trade in the vicinity of this giant stuff-up’.
He said the original budget for the project was $112,600, with the work to take about six weeks from its advertised starting date in late January this year.
Now, it was almost August and the work was far from finished and indeed, work had stopped, he said.
Even worse, said Mr Malloy, the cost had blown out by $66,000 above the original estimate.
He said there were big question marks over the original cost estimates, tenders and the supervision of the works.
Byron Council had been offered a way out of the ‘mess’ with a staff recommendation to fund $50,000 of the budget over-run from available Bangalow local parks Section 94 funds, he said.
That recommendation had been unanimously rejected, with the council requiring the project to stay within the original $112,600 budget ‘with safety and amenity as priorities’, whatever that meant.
Mr Malloy said the chamber wanted the council to give a ‘full and transparent explanation of how such a simple project should go so badly wrong’ and what was it going to do to get it back on track.
He said the council’s ‘do nothing’ option was unacceptable to Bangalow businesses and residents.
“This is fast becoming Bangalow’s Lighthouse Road and that is the last thing Bangalow wants or needs,” he said.
Byron Council’s executive manager of community infrastructure, Phil Holloway, said there was still funding available to complete the project.
Mr Holloway said the small park was an intensive area and did not allow broad use of heavy machinery during the demolition, construction and land-scaping.
"Unforeseen extra costs have been incurred for the required retaining walls which could not be determined until demolition had commenced and groundworks un-earthed,” he said.
"This is a constrained site with old character buildings on each side of the park.
"Labour-intensive demolition, stone work and concreting has revealed additional structural and engineering works that were required to ensure a safe community facility."
Mr Holloway said the project started in April and delays had been incurred due to four wet-weather events. It was expected to restart next week.
He said in order to come within budget, the custom-made seating had been changed to ‘off the shelf’ and there would be no stone wall and timber screen on one side of the park.
At all times, staff and contractors had ensured minimal disruption to the footpath that ran across the front of the park, he said.
Tendering for the project underwent the normal process and a local contractor was chosen on price and quality of work history.