“TfNSW walk away and do nothing” – $250K for Thompson Square rehabilitation but council wants more
With the demolition of old Windsor Bridge at an end, Transport for NSW are set to walk away from the new $137m bridge project and have offered $250,000 to Hawkesbury Council for work to rehabilitate the bridge’s Wharf Precinct.
But some councillors are less than happy with the way TfNSW are leaving the historic Colonial-era Square, and they spoke out about it at this week’s council meeting, with a call for as much as an additional $250,000 in funding - taking it to half a million dollars.
“They [TfNSW] are quite happy to walk away and do nothing on behalf of this community which has been raped by this project – an absolute disgrace,” said Cllr John Ross.
TfNSW have offered $250,000 to Council for work on the so-called Wharf Precinct, in lieu of the government body carrying out the work themselves.
But some councillors said there were other substantial works promised to restore historic Thompson Square which have not been delivered.
“There were very detailed plans drawn up,” Greens councillor Danielle Wheeler said.
“Lighting, signposts, sandstone work, landscaping, pathways, all sorts of stuff, and all I can see is three trees, and a set of concrete steps and some blow on mulch. It’s not the plans we were given. Councillor Ross is correct. We were told we were going to receive something but it is not there.
“This is quite a large scope of works, and I’m concerned we are going to have to ask the ratepayers liable for this when we have not been given what we have been told. And I don’t think it is $100,000 we’re missing out on,” Cllr Wheeler said.
The Greens councillor also pointed out that in the latest State Budget Estimates, the new bridge project was a "couple of million dollars below budget".
"I’m angry with this process and the way we have been treated in this whole mess," Cllr Wheeler said.
"We were led to believe that that Square would be rehabilitated, an interpretation plan would be enacted, that the public would have some input, that the Square would be rehabilitated, and that we would be getting more than three trees and a bit of blown on mulch. This is really poor. Where is the interpretive signage, where are the places to sit, where are all the stuff the community was promised in this grand rejig of Thompson Square that made this shambles of a project vaguely palatable?"
“The offer of $250,000 is totally unacceptable from my point of view,” Cllr Ross said.
“I do not believe the $250,000 will cover the cost of making that area into something of benefit to the community. Nor will it provide amplification of the historic information element I believe are contained in that area.
“I personally believe we should be asking the government for half a million dollars,” Cllr Ross said.
Deputy Mayor, Mary Lyons-Buckett said that there had been a meeting with State Transport Minister Andrew Constance some time ago when he had said there would be additional funds available for the rehabilitation of Thompson Square.
“He was quite adamant that he saw some scope to add in funds to rehabilitation funds, given the extent of loss this community had suffered,” Cllr Lyons-Buckett said.
“I believe he was genuine and he said we should approach him. Given he made that commitment we should try and get some more money.
“The community has suffered loss in regard to heritage and if we can get some more money to make this a better outcome, we should try every avenue we have,” the Deputy Mayor said.
Councillors agreed to accept the $250,000 from TfNSW, with the Mayor to write to the Minister to suggest a discussion on more funding for the complete rehabilitation of Thompson Square.
Main picture - courtesy of Paul Caleo
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