South Burnett Mayor Brett Otto and Member for Maranoa David Littleproud were at the head of the queue at the Kingaroy Transformation Project’s official sod-turning ceremony

January 27, 2021

Kingaroy’s $13.6 million CBD makeover is now officially under way, despite protest petitions circulating in the community and a small delay to the planned sod-turning ceremony.

The ceremony had been planned for December but was postponed for several weeks until Federal Member for Maranoa David Littleproud could attend.

The ambitious project – which will cover several blocks in an area bounded by Youngman, Haly, Alford and Kingaroy streets – is being jointly funded by the Federal Government and the South Burnett Regional Council.

The Federal Government is contributing $4.5 million through its Building Better Regions Fund.

The balance is made up of a $2 million loan the Council secured for the project several years ago, and $7.1 million from money held in reserves for upgrades to the town’s ageing underground infrastructure.

Work actually began during the festive season break when Council work crews attended to mains connections at the corner of Youngman and Haly streets.

KTP Project Manager Allen Christensen said this work had been carried out to avoid the need to dig up freshly laid bitumen when the Department Of Transport and Main Roads reseals Youngman Street soon as part of its regular highway maintenance program.

The official launch was held in Alford Street, opposite Kingaroy Shoppingworld, last Monday.

It was attended by South Burnett Mayor Brett Otto and all councillors, Council CEO Mark Pitt, Mr Littleproud, Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington, Kingaroy Chamber of Commerce president Damien Martoo and other invited guests.

Mr Littleproud said the project would bring many benefits to both the town and the region it served.

“The streets will get better footpaths and crosswalks, with shady trees and al fresco outdoor structures and improved parking and landscaping,” he said.

“The CBD will also be able to host small and large community events and provide visitors a safe, accessible and inviting environment in which to shop, eat and relax.

“I’d like to acknowledge former Mayor Keith Campbell and CEO Mark Pitt who on a number of occasions came to Canberra to knock on doors consistently.

“They were passionate about this project because they believed in what it would do for the community and the business centre here in the South Burnett.”

South Burnett Mayor Brett Otto said council was grateful for the support provided by the Federal Government.

“The Kingaroy community is excited to see the benefits from the transformation project, which will revitalise the South Burnett region,” the Mayor said.

“This transformation will lead to improved safety for vehicles and pedestrians, improved lighting and will create a lively town centre that will serve the Kingaroy community and wider region.”

He also paid tribute to the previous Council for deciding to take up the project.

He noted the last significant work on the CBD took place 30 years ago, and the idea of revitalising the CBD had been under discussion for at least 20 years.

Cr Scott Henschen and Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington swung their shovels along with the rest of the guests

Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington said the project would not only benefit Kingaroy, but the wider South Burnett region as well, fuelling the local economy by encouraging more tourists to visit.

She also hoped a more attractive town centre would encourage more new residents to move to the region.

“Our world has changed with COVID-19 and it shows the importance of beautifying regional towns,” Mrs Frecklington said.

“We want to encourage as many tourists as possible to come to the South Burnett.

“But what excites me most is being able to revitalise our town and make it more beautiful for visitors while maintaining the best that is Kingaroy, which is our beautiful wide streets and the peanut silos.”

* * *

Former South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell (Photo: SBRC)

Former South Burnett mayor Keith Campbell downplayed concerns the Kingaroy Transformation Project (KPT) would lead to future rate rises.

A petition which has been circulated around the South Burnett is calling on Council to rescind a decision made at its November meeting to commit a further $2.8 million to the project, claiming the KTP “has the potential to increase the burden on already stressed ratepayers while reducing the ability to complete other essential works”.

In a statement issued on the morning of the sod-turning ceremony, Mr Campbell said that contrary to what some people believe, the $13.6 million project was already fully funded.

He said he knew this funding had been put together “without costing ratepayers one single cent more in rates”.

Mr Campbell said he had read comments arguing the project was not needed, that the money should be spent on roads or other projects, and that the money should not be spent in Kingaroy at all.

He had also read other comments criticising the project and offering opinions about other features that some people felt should be included.

However, he could not support them.

“Kingaroy residential ratepayers and businesses contribute more in rates each year than all rural and agricultural ratepayers combined,” he said.

“During my time as Mayor and since, Council has done an excellent job (consulting) with residents, (and) plenty of opportunity was given for people to express their thoughts.

He said all information about the project was available in the minutes of previous Council meetings, which could be downloaded from the Council’s website.

“The officers’ reports … are clearly written and easily understood,” he said.

“I’m very comfortable about the project and the capacity of Council to afford it.”

* * *

One area of funding for the KTP yet to be clarified are the contributions of Ergon Energy and the Department Of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR) towards the project.

Both Haly and Kingaroy streets are DTMR-controlled roads, and relocating the CBD’s power into underground conduits is a key feature of the makeover.

During November’s General Meeting, it emerged the Council has included an estimated $2.3 million in contributions from DTMR and Ergon for infrastructure upgrades in the KTP’s project budget.

However, neither DTMR or Ergon have so far confirmed what their contributions will be.

At the same meeting, Deputy Mayor Gavin Jones moved a motion to increase the KTP budget by $300,000 (ie. from $13.6 million to $13.9 million) to provide a contingency for any cost over-runs.

Cr Jones’ motion gained support from Crs Frohloff, Potter and Henschen and was carried by four votes to three.

The contingency money will only be drawn down if the project suffers a cost over-run.

Crs Roz Frohloff, Kathy Duff, Danita Potter and Deputy Mayor Gavin Jones buried their differences over the project and dug deep on the day
Cr Kirstie Schumacher and Cr Kathy Duff said they were pleased to see the KTP project finally begin
Whoops! During the sod-turning participants were reminded what Kingaroy is really like underground when one of the diggers struck water just a short distance below the surface … the town’s CBD is built on a former swamp

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