FUTURE IS HERE: Design consultant Hassell has won the tender for the CBD revitalisation project after it wowed councillors and the CBD Reference Group with its vision.Photo Contributed
FUTURE IS HERE: Design consultant Hassell has won the tender for the CBD revitalisation project after it wowed councillors and the CBD Reference Group with its vision.Photo Contributed Contributed

Council cops backlash over $16M CBD upgrade

THE knives have come out swiftly as some ratepayers and CBD traders condemn Bundaberg Regional Council for its ambitious $16 million CBD upgrade calling it a "waste of money".

The NewsMail yesterday revealed how award-winning design studio Hassell had been awarded a $1.589 million contract to provide conceptual and detailed designs for the CBD Revitalisation Project.

While the concept art wowed some, many were left gobsmacked that the council was willing to spend so much money on the project.

"Looks good but sick of rates going up to cover the cost," Lauren White wrote on the NewsMail Facebook page.

Alastair Elliott, who owns Elliott's Bookshop, wrote an email to the NewsMail today in response to our story indicating the "grandiose scheme" was an affront to Bundaberg CBD business owners.

He said there were about 42 vacant shops between Barolin and Targo Sts with more in Quay St and further along Bourbong St and a beautification project would not bring businesses back to the CBD area.

 

Alastair Elliott - Elliott's Bookshop and Boomerang Book Exchange.
Alastair Elliott - Elliott's Bookshop and Boomerang Book Exchange. Mike Knott BUN280417BOOK1

"If there are no businesses left or a reduced number remaining in the CBD how will the council justify the possible ghost town which will result?" Mr Elliott asked.

"I have already spoken with a number of people in the street and with a couple of other businesses, and they are concerned that the council consider that they have the mandate to spend ratepayers' money on a project of this magnitude, which is essentially unnecessary."

The council was on the defence on social media overnight as some questioned the validity of the CBD plan.

 

Comments on Bundaberg Regional Council Facebook page.
Comments on Bundaberg Regional Council Facebook page. Jim Alouat

"Spend the money where it's needed on everyday necessity not on trying to outdo other places," Kathleen Rowland wrote on Bundaberg Regional Council Facebook page,

"The CBD area has not had money spent on it since 1993," the council responded.

"The traders and shoppers in this location have every right to expect that council will ensure the CBD area remains a vibrant, well utilised part of the regional community.

"It is also about catering to our current and future community needs."

Reg Dix claimed the plan was a "waste of ratepayers' money".

"This project had significant community consultation and involves a Community Reference Group putting forward the thoughts of traders and the community," the council responded.

Yes or No: Do you think the Bundaberg CBD upgrade is a good idea and worth the cost?

This poll ended on 08 September 2017.

Current Results

Yes

50%

No

50%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

The Community Reference Group is made up of 15 people including Bundaberg CBD shop owners and stakeholders and is chaired by councillor Helen Blackburn.

The council appointed Dwayne Honor as project manager.

Minutes from an April 26 meeting of the group noted that parking was the number one priority for members.

CRG members noted that access to parking and navigation was a key issue within Bourbong St and parking inspectors had observed CBD employees occupying the long-term (two-hour) parks, moving their vehicle multiple times throughout the day to avoid exceeding time limits.

But it wasn't all doom and gloom.

A few NewsMail Facebook readers praised the project.

"What's wrong with you people?" Michael Liddell wrote.

"The place needs something, Bundy has so much to offer, great climate and beaches why not support jobs in the community."



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