All we want for Christmas…


SOUTH Gippsland Shire Council has promised to deliver Leongatha a $1.15 million Christmas present if the Federal Government backs council’s application for a grant to redevelop Bair Street.

Council last Wednesday voted to allocate the extra funding to the project, conditional on the grant being successful, bringing council’s total commitment to Bair Street to $2.7 million.

Council had already committed $1.55 million to the project in 2019-20. The project will cost a total of $5.4 million.

Council has applied for $2.7 million for the Bair Street redevelopment project from the Federal Government’s Building Better Regions Fund grant program for infrastructure projects.

An outcome is expected before next year’s federal election, tipped to be in May, and if the grant is awarded, council expects construction to start in late 2019, with completion late in 2020 at the earliest.

The grant requires council to increase its share of the funding.

Mayor Cr Don Hill said council’s extra investment was warranted.

“I think it is a good use of money. Leongatha is our main town and I believe the development will have an enormous drawcard effect and bring people into town,” he said.

“It will liven up this side of town and even though it is an expensive project, it is one that this community is looking forward to.”

Council’s contribution could be reduced if an application for state funding early next year is successful.

The redevelopment will include landscaping, trees, angle parking and traffic reduced to one lane and potential public art.

At last Wednesday’s council meeting, Cr Jeremy Rich said the redevelopment of Bair Street was an important project for the whole region, and Cr Alyson Skinner said, “This will be a really exciting project for Leongatha and will revitalise our Bair Street precinct.”

Cr Hill told The Star he did not believe the project had taken overly long so far, with council required to follow a process that included waiting for VicRoads to complete construction of the heavy vehicle alternate route, thereby giving council responsibility for Bair Street.

“We had to have the whole plan worked out, sent out to tender and that then came back and we now have a project that is shovel ready,” he said.

In 2017-18, council tried to secure state funding for the Bair Street redevelopment and railway station site stage one, to no avail.

Council’s manager infrastructure delivery John Moylan said, “An expression of interest was submitted to the State Government for $4.25 million based on a project cost of $5.8 million. The scope of works in this bid was for the Bair Street works plus stage one of the rail precinct works which included the Bair Street bridge, carpark and some landscaping. “Funding was sought under the Regional Development Victoria – Regional Jobs and Infrastructure fund. However, council was never invited to the application stage. Although feedback was sought as to why council was not invited to application, no feedback was provided by the State Government other than advice that streetscape type projects were not favoured.”

The Bair Street component of the project is ready for construction, with concept designs for a pedestrian bridge as part of the railway station stage one project still being undertaken.

Council will consider options in coming months and will include the possibilities for a crossing at Roughead Street to accommodate the Great Southern Rail Trail extension from Leongatha to Korumburra.

Until this work is done, further design for other aspects of the railway station site stage one cannot start.

Gippsland South MP Danny O’Brien last Friday called on the State Government to support the Bair Street and rail yards project.

“We need VicTrack and council to be able to work together to clean up the site, re-open the toilets that have been closed for a few months and then ultimately redevelop the area for the benefit of the town,” he said.

Fingers crossed: South Gippsland Shire Council mayor Cr Don Hill, in Leongatha’s Bair Street, hopes council’s application for federal funding to redevelop the street is successful.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=26795

Posted by on Dec 4 2018. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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