LAST night Mayor Wayne Bedggood was part of the audience at the community meeting held by the Scone Chamber of Commerce and the Upper Hunter Shire Council on the Kelly Street revitalisation.
After Tony Gant from Transport NSW gave a presentation on delivering the bypass six months earlier than expected (Read: Bypass Ready for Easter Traffic), the Mayor took him to task for “getting people’s hopes up” about Kelly Street.
Mr Gant had explained the Roads and Maritime Services were now shifting their focus to begin assessing the structure of Kelly Street and working with Council to ensure the road was of an acceptable standard before reclassifying the road and handing responsibility for it back to local government.
He estimated it may be six to 12 months before the main street would be reclassified, based on other areas where bypasses have opened, but said Council could begin work on footpaths, outdoor dining and other features of the main street, while the RMS was assessing and preparing the road to be reclassified.
However, Mayor Bedggood chastised Mr Gant for saying Council could begin any work.
“…you said Council can do other works in the interim and that is not the case…the sticking point all the way through has been getting this road classification….there are minimal things we can do until the main street is assessed….there is very little that can go on without having to rip things up later…,” said Mayor Bedggood.
“We have all those plans and we can’t do those pavements until the road is set in concrete – pardon the pun,” he said.
“Please don’t let people think we can start work now, because we can’t!
“Don’t get people’s hopes up that it is going to happen any more quickly than it has,” chided the Mayor.
Hopes First Raised
However, in January 2016, the Council first went on the public record to state that the Kelly Street revitalisation would be complete before the bypass opened (Read: Trucking Ahead With Plans).
The general manager at the time, Waid Crockett, explained Council’s thinking:
“The reason behind that is so the town is ready to take advantage of visitors as soon as the bypass goes in, because if we aren’t ready, people won’t bother stopping,” he said.
“We need to make the town as attractive to visitors as possible before the bypass to develop a reputation as a great place to stop off on their journey.
“If they turn off the bypass and we haven’t revitalised the town centre, they won’t bother coming back,” he said.
Money A Roadblock
Money for the revitalisation was also a sticking point at last night’s meeting, with Alan Fletcher, manager for special projects with the Upper Hunter Shire Council explaining the RMS may not have the money to remediate the road to the level Council expects.
“The RMS told us they can’t afford to replace the concrete pavement because they’ve said it’s $10 (million) to $15 million,” said Mr Fletcher.
The general manager of Council, Steve McDonald said the Council currently has $19 million in funding for the revitalisation.
They confirmed the revitalisation was not yet at the concept design phase and they would have difficulty doing anything in Kelly Street until the RMS had done their assessment of the road.
At the February 2019 Council meeting, the State Government announced $2,965,782 for the revitalisation and at the same meeting Cr James Burns requested $200,000 be appropriated from the Bill Rose Sports Complex, as the first phase of the revitalisation had gone over budget, explaining, “I don’t know it’s technical engineering stuff.”