Work to start on long-awaited project next month
WITH the hope of preventing further delays, work will start on Stage 1A of the Philip St Communities and Families Precinct next month despite funding uncertainty.
Gladstone Regional Council voted in favour of entering into a formal contract with Gladstone business Blomfields Excavations to allow the company to finally break ground on the $30-million project, which has been 15 years in the making.
In August the council accepted Blomfields tender worth $4.9 million for stage 1A but could not formalise the contract because construction deadlines as part of a Federal Government grant could not be met.
The Regional Jobs and Investment Packages grant, worth $3 million, stated stages 1A and 1B must be finished by June 30.
The council has not received a response from the department on its application for a deadline extension to December 31, 2020.
But at Tuesday’s general meeting councillors voted in favour of formalising the contract regardless.
Deputy mayor Chris Trevor said he received an email from Gladstone Region Mayor Matt Burnett on Tuesday morning stating that he had received verbal advice the extension would be granted.
The project aims to centralise the region’s community and social services.
Once finished it would include council offices and the Salvation Army’s neighbourhood centre.
It’s hoped the centralisation of services will also attract an aged-care provider to open a retirement village at the precinct.
Should the funding extension be declined the council risks losing $3.02 million of external funding.
The council report said this could result in the project being scaled down to have one less building in stage 1.
Deputy mayor Chris Trevor said he was concerned about a potential “budgetary shock” as the project progressed.
In June last year the council doubled its funding for the first stage of the project after a detailed costings report found it would cost $5 million more than expected.
It was Cr Trevor’s casting vote at the June 19 meeting that saved the project from being scrapped.
“I’m frightened of a budgetary shock and future costings but be that as it may I’ll be judged on that if and when the time comes,” Cr Trevor said.
Natalia Muszkat was the only councillor to vote against the motion.
“We’re using ratepayer money on this project and I don’t think we should be,” Ms Muszkat said.
Other funding promised for the project includes $20 million from the Federal Government to duplicate Philip St and $3 million from the Gladstone Foundation for the relocation of the Salvation Army office.
With the revised time frame construction is expected to start on January 6 and finish on June 30.
The council plans to finalise the contract for stage 1B by February, with construction to start in March and finish in November.