Third time or bust on street

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Margaret River main street
PIC : Derek Pool
Camera IconMargaret River main street PIC : Derek Pool

Businesses have voiced worries about whether the third attempt at starting Margaret River’s main street redevelopment will be ready in time for February — while Shire president Ian Earl says if the third time’s not the charm, funding for the project will be at risk.

The concerns come as traders and the Margaret River Chamber of Commerce met for “brainstorming” sessions this week to harness shoppers to support the local economy in the lead-up to Christmas.

Several traders, who did not want to be named for fear of a backlash, said they were all ready to get behind the redevelopment project when it was floated more than a year ago, but ongoing delays were costly for operators and some felt they were “in limbo”.

Traders were revved up for the redevelopment to kick off in October, but the Shire stalled the project for a second time, saying it had listened to feedback from traders worried about peak holiday trade.

The delay came as the Shire’s newest project manager left the position and management of the project went in-house — but traders told the Times they felt disorganisation rather than concern for the business community was the true reason for the third delay.

Shire project manager Peter J Brown confirmed this week there were no obstacles to “an early February” start date.

“Tenders for the works close(d) on Friday, November 22, and staff are working to ensure that the tenders are evaluated and a report is presented to council at its ordinary council meeting of December 11,” he said.

“It is expected that a contract will be awarded prior to Christmas to allow for the appointed contractor to mobilise in mid-January 2020 for an onsite start of Stage 1 on February 3, 2020.”

Shire president Ian Earl said he was confident the project would start at the end of summer.

Chamber of Commerce president Melissa Dath said three committee members were on the advisory group, met frequently with the Shire, and were pleased at the project manager Mr Brown’s interactions with traders.

“There is a Meet Pete at the Tavern once a month too, which is great for an informal discussion, ideas, and information exchange,” she said.

Cr Earl acknowledged public scepticism around the project due to the delays. But he said the redevelopment must start in February or risk another year’s delay.

“The biggest job in front of us (the Shire) is the main street,” he said. “It will be starting at the start of February. If we don’t, we’ll do the dough.”

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