Race to the finish line

The unveiling of the Learn to Ride Park project completed in August 2020.

By Jess Baker

There are just four months left in two all-important Queensland Government funding programs, and 16 of 22 local infrastructure improvement projects are still yet to be completed.

Southern Downs Regional Council (SDRC) was allocated a total of $5.85 million under government programs ‘2019-2021 Works for Queensland’ and ‘2020/21 Covid Works for Queensland’ for maintenance and minor infrastructure projects relating to SDRC owned and operated assets.

While most projects have commenced – and some have been completed – a significant number of projects remain in progress.

A Council spokesperson has provided the following information regarding the progress of projects funded under both programs.

Under the ‘2019-2021 Works for Queensland’ program, six projects have been completed:

• Warwick SES has been relocated to the APRA building (at a cost of $200,000);

• The Warwick Bowls Club has been given access to low cost recycled water for the upkeep of its greens (at a cost of $20,000);

• Warwick Men’s Shed and Warwick Woodcrafters “stage two” including landscaping and fencing has been completed (at a cost of $300,000);

• The gravel section of Darcy Street in Stanthorpe has been sealed (at a cost of $90,000);

• Construction of a Learn to Ride Park at Australiana Park in Warwick has been completed (at a cost of $300,000); and

• “Stage two” of the Condamine River Walkway has been completed (at a cost of $300,000).

Under the ‘2019-2021 Works for Queensland’ program, eight projects are still in progress:

• Relocation of Rose City FM to Victoria Park (costing $326,000) is 15 per cent completed;

• Leyburn amenities upgrades (costing $160,000) are 50 per cent completed;

• Improvements to Apex Park in Allora (costing $75,000) are 50 per cent completed;

• Maryvale Urban Design Outcomes, including hotel, park precinct and fencing developments (costing $170,000) are 80 per cent completed;

• Leyburn Urban Design Outcomes, including streetscape and Sprints precinct enhancements (costing $125,000) are 20 per cent completed;

• Sealing Link Road from Brunckhorst Avenue to Wallangarra Road in Stanthorpe (costing $250,000 “on top of Council’s contribution”) is 30 per cent completed;

• Warwick Laneway Power and Public Art project (costing $50,000) is 90 per cent completed; and

• Water infrastructure improvements at Dalveen Reservoir (costing $300,000) are 85 per cent completed.

Under the ‘2020/21 Covid Works for Queensland program’, all five projects are still in progress:

• Stanthorpe Waste Transfer Station Upgrade (costing $1,725,000) is 10 per cent completed– tenders have been issued, assessed and awarded. Works commenced on-site in January 2021;

• The addition of a Group Fitness Room at Warwick Indoor Recreation and Aquatic Centre (costing $435,000) is 10 per cent completed (as of 22 February 2021) – a tender for the design and construction of the Group Fitness Room was considered by Council yesterday at the 24 February 2021 Ordinary Meeting;

• Storm King Dam remediation works (costing $420,000) are 30 per cent completed – the initial underwater inspection was completed in December 2020 and a contract was awarded to Newland Civil in January 2021 to undertake the remediation work;

• Construction of a Wastewater Treatment Plant Septic Receival Unit in Warwick (costing $300,000) is 25 per cent completed – tender evaluation is under way; and

• Improvements to the Warwick Pound (costing $100,000) are 25 per cent completed – RFQ has been issued with the contract awarded to a local builder. Work commenced in January 2021.

Under the ‘2019-2021 Works for Queensland’ program, three projects are yet to commence:

• Improvements to Warwick and Stanthorpe skate parks (costing $45,000) are due to commence at the end of February 2021;

• An upgrade to Stanthorpe Netball facilities (costing $150,000) are due to commence in March 2021; and

• A Warwick Senior Citizens Shelter project (costing $9000) is due to commence at the end of February 2021.

It is a requirement of both the ‘2020/21 Covid Works for Queensland’ program and the ‘2019-2021 Works for Queensland’ program that all projects are completed by 30 June 2021.

However, given 13 of the 22 projects are less than (or are only) half complete, four months is likely an unrealistic timeline for the amount of work remaining.

A Council spokesperson said there are “numerous possibilities” for projects that are not completed by 30 June.

“Projects which require extensions for extenuating circumstances may seek an extension for consideration with (the funding) Department,” said the spokesperson.

“Alternatively, if an extension is not approved by the Department, Council may be required to cover the remaining cost of the project, seek additional funding from another source or be required to cover the full cost of the project.”

Thus, if numerous projects remain “in progress” at the June deadline, significant financial contributions may have to be made by Council.

The spokesperson said Council is appreciate of the Queensland Government’s generous support, as investment in infrastructure boosts the economy, keeps the region moving forward and helps meet the community’s needs.

“Together we are shaping the Southern Downs into a great place to work, live, play and stay,” said the spokesperson.