$624K bill for square

Pierra WillixSound Telegraph
The square and plaza at the front of the City of Rockingham administration building is set for a $624,000 redevelopment.
Camera IconThe square and plaza at the front of the City of Rockingham administration building is set for a $624,000 redevelopment. Credit: Pierra Willix

Rockingham ratepayers will be hit with a $624,000 bill for the redevelopment of the City Square and Civic Plaza outside the City of Rockingham’s administration building.

But councillors refuted claims it was a “beautification” project and said the redevelopment was necessary to address serious safety concerns.

In mid-2016, a program began to explore opportunities to redevelop the area to improve appearance and functionality, while also addressing long-term maintenance requirements. But in January, councillors decided to reject all tenders for that project as they were deemed too expensive.

They have now approved a quote from Bibra Lake business Total Eden for $624,321.82.

The design incorporates a variety of new seating options, paving, lighting and planting. During last week’s council meeting, several councillors said that although they had at first thought the project was purely aesthetic, it was necessary to address safety concerns — and that the City could be held liable if any-one was injured in the area. Councillor Joy Stewart said the project was a “no-brainer as far as safety features” went.

She said factors such as tree roots beginning to establish in the pavement posed genuine safety risks.

“The redevelopment will address maintenance issues,” she said.

Councillors Matthew Whitfield and Andrew Burns expressed concern at the cost of the project, with Cr Whitfield saying the approval of spending could anger residents at a time when they were receiving rate increases. “This will not look good on council,” he said.

Cr Burns said that “at some point in the future” he would like to see the area redeveloped, but that he did not think “now was the time”.

But Cr Mark Jones pointed out that in the adoption of the Budget last month, councillors had already approved the spending, and that the quote came in at $75,000 under budget.

The quote for the project was approved by seven councillors, but voted against by Crs Whitfield and Burns.

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