WATCH: Free Bechtel parkers get the boot --- and a bill
THE feud brewing between construction giant Bechtel and Calliope Central Bowls Club could well have been sorted out over a couple of $4.80 schooners and $5 club memberships long before things boiled over.
Four years ago Bechtel had an understanding with the club's manager Brad "Buddha" Henderson that local Bechtel employees could park free of charge at the club's well-worn car park.
It was convenient for those Bechtel workers who would park and then catch a bus into work.
Mr Henderson had insisted on one condition --- that those workers who were using the car park would kindly return the favour by joining up at his club and sinking a few cold ones after they knocked off work. "I said to him that I was happy for them to use the car park if they all became members of the club and used our facilities as well. The first two weeks were great but after that they were gone," he said.
WATCH: 'Our patrons couldn't even get a car park, so the situation became intolerable'
Bechtel did ask their workers to consider spending some time and money at the club but at the end of the day it wasn't something management could enforce.
The problem became "intolerable" two months ago when workers were prevented from parking at the IGA shopping complex at Calliope.
More workers started turning up to use the bowling club car park, filling it to capacity. That's when the former CEO of Gladstone Regional Council and current vice president of the bowls club Graeme Kanofski decided his club needed some sort of compensation for the past four years.
He says the club has spent more than $20,000 repairing the car park.
"The minimum [Bechtel] should be doing is saying Calliope Central Bowls Club we'll reseal your car park," Mr Kanofski said.
"We're just asking for a fair go and we haven't even received a decent offer apart from a few bits of broken down gear coming back from the island."
At a rough estimate Mr Kanofski valued the use of the club's car park at $125,000.
But Bechtel Gladstone General Manager Kevin Berg has been taken by surprise by these very public demands and says he won't be "held to ransom".
"We have had a great on-going relationship with the bowls club for more than four years. Allowing our local employees access to use their parking facilities through that time has been greatly appreciated. So we are very surprised that just this month, after local employees have been using the facilities since 2011, a club representative is making strong demands for us to hand over "substantial" cash payments retrospectively," Mr Berg said.
"We operate like any other business. Being held to ransom to a cash payment when one has never been discussed at any time over the past four years makes it impossible for us to conform to the demand.
"(In the most recent discussions) we have said that we are willing to support the club in other ways. We are disappointed that this is apparently "not good enough", and that no options other than substantial cash as demanded, will be accepted."
Bechtel workers have now started parking at the Bunting Park Facilities on Archer St, but that seems to have only pushed the problem further down the road.
Heather Jensen, who lives across the road from that car park, is not happy either.
"I don't like being woken up by people and buses at 4.30am," Mrs Jensen said. "It's like Russian Roulette getting into the driveway. I never used to shut my windows and I don't like having to change my ways…
"We're also trying to sell our house and this is not helping."
Mr Kanofski is pleased to have the club car park back but it appears he is not finished with Bechtel yet.