Blackbutt’s CBD upgrade project has had its budget expanded by $750,000, but final designs for the $1.3 million project won’t be drawn up until a further round of community consultation meetings are held

April 13, 2021

Funding for Blackbutt’s CBD upgrade received a go-ahead last Wednesday when South Burnett councillors voted to expand the project’s budget by $750,000 to $1.3 million.

The extra money will come from a $1.95 million Local Roads and Community Infrastructure grant the Council received from the Federal Government earlier this year.

However, final designs for the project won’t be struck until the Council holds a further round of community consultation meetings with Blackbutt residents to settle several unresolved issues.

These include CBD parking; the location of a proposed pedestrian crossing and refuge on Coulson Street; removal of camphor laurel trees; and the fate of the town’s famously inaccurate clock.

At Wednesday’s Infrastructure standing committee meeting, Councillors were told between $150,000 and $200,000 of the expanded budget would be spent carrying out much-needed upgrades to Les Muller Park.

These upgrades would include replacing the existing sawdust around the play equipment area with softfall, upgrading the park’s weather-worn shelters and improving its footpaths.

Cr Gavin Jones said the initial CBD upgrade plan had come out of two days of community consultations held in December, and congratulated Council staff for their work converting the ideas that came out of those meetings into concept plans.

However, because several matters had yet to be settled, he wanted to take these initial plans back to the community for further consultation before any work got underway.

“Loss of parking is enormous for the people of Blackbutt – they don’t want to lose any – and that’s what we’re working on,” Cr Jones said.

The fate of Blackbutt’s famously inaccurate clock tower was also discussed.

The tower, which is earmarked for removal from its current Coulson Street home as part of the upgrade, has been a feature of Blackbutt’s main street for the past 60 to 70 years.

Cr Danita Potter said the tower was a rare example of mid-century modern architecture and deserved to be preserved, despite the fact it had rarely shown the correct time during a large part of its life.

She suggested the clock tower could be re-sited outside the former Blackbutt Council Chambers in Hart Street – or perhaps near Blackbutt’s Memorial Hall – with a plaque explaining its historical significance to the town.

Cr Jones said the second stage of the project – installing a roundabout at the Hart Street intersection – would depend on feedback from the Department of Transport and Main Roads.

He said the roundabout might be built in the next five or 10 years if DTMR agreed and the Federal or State Government paid for it; but perhaps it might never be built, if they didn’t.

Cr Kirstie Schumacher asked what the projected lifespan of the upgrade was.

Infrastructure General Manager Aaron Meehan said Blackbutt’s new footpaths were expected to last between 50 and 100 years, with repainting occurring every six to 10 years.

Kerb and channelling should last for 60 to 70 years, and the overall life of the project was expected to be about 60 years.

Cr Schumacher said she had grown up in Blackbutt and supported this “once-in-a-generation upgrade” of the town, particularly the upgrades to Les Muller Park’s shelter sheds.

She said she remembered sitting in them as a 17-year-old while she waited for a bus to Nanango, and they were in poor condition then.

The next public consultation meeting on the Blackbutt CBD upgrade plan will be held at Blackbutt Memorial Hall in Bowman Road, Blackbutt on Tuesday, April 20 at 5:30pm.

The projected completion date for the upgrade is December 31.

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