January 20, 2020
One of the South Burnett’s most decrepit car parks will get a long overdue $600,000 upgrade this year, almost two decades after it was originally promised.
Ironically, the cost of the upgrade will be paid by the Federal Government just months after the project was rejected by the State Government’s “Building Our Regions” grants program.
At January’s meeting, SBRC Councillors were told Council’s $1.64 million Roads To Recovery (R2R) funding for 2019-20 had been unexpectedly expanded by an extra $822,233 this year.
R2R is a long-standing annual grants program that supports the maintenance of the nation’s local road infrastructure assets.
R2R grants are distributed to Australian councils and to State and Territory governments responsible for local roads in unincorporated areas (where there are no councils), Norfolk Island and the Indian Ocean Territories.
Last November, the Federal Government announced it would tip an extra $138 million into R2R funding for the 128 Local Government Areas eligible for the Drought Communities Program Extension.
This included the South Burnett.
Council officers told last week’s meeting the Federal Government had advanced the extra funding on the proviso it was spent in the 2019-20 financial year.
Officers said this year all the $1.64 million R2R grant had been put towards Council’s $2.76 million bitumen resealing program.
So they proposed Council tip the additional funds into the same program, then use $600,000 of it to reconstruct and reseal the car park.
Councillors voted unanimously to accept the officers’ recommendation, and work is expected to commence in the next few months.
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The car park is bounded by Alford, Haly and Kingaroy streets in Kingaroy’s CBD, behind the Commonwealth and NAB banks.
Almost two decades ago, the former Kingaroy Shire Council removed the Torreliana trees (cadagi) which had provided shade in the area after complaints the trees were dripping gum on parked cars.
At the time, Council assured the Kingaroy Chamber of Commerce it intended to fix the car park and replace the Torrelianas with more suitable trees or shade sails.
But this didn’t happen and then the forced Council amalgamations in 2008 put an end to the promise.
Since then, the car park project has been “kicked down the road” in successive Budgets so Council could tackle more urgent projects in other towns.
Its existence was even overlooked in the initial Kingaroy “revitalisation” proposal unveiled in March 2018.
The car park’s surface has been patched so often that it is now little more than a patchwork of bitumen buttons interspersed with potholes.
The absence of shade coupled with poor signage, the leftover concrete tree rings and the dangerous entries and exits discourage many people from using it.