Council conflict over Upper Mary St facelift
A letter to the editor by Merv Welsh:
THE Gympie Times (Friday, August 10) made interesting reading under the banner headline "Mary Street Facelift Splits Council".
Given the community experience of, and reaction to, the recent Smithfield St beautification, any future proposals for streetscape upgrades were always going to face challenges.
Cr Fredman reportedly led the charge to have the questionable Upper Mary Str project be reconsidered with a view to making better use of the ratepayers'$1.5 million contribution.
He was outspokenly sceptical of any benefits resulting from the very expensive cosmetic procedure and was supported to some degree by Councillors Smerdon and Hartwig.
Mayor Curran, in defending the proposal, did not identify the expected benefits, but stated that it was too late for reconsideration - that, in effect, "the horse had bolted".
He argued that it was "...work the Council needed to do ahead of the bypass opening..." and that to return the Federal Government's $1.5 million contribution would sour the council's relationship with the Government and jeopardise future grant applications.
But it is difficult to see any connection between Upper Mary St and the bypass opening and to believe that the Federal Government would be miffed at the return of their contribution.
The Mayor added that... "We would be breaking the trust with local businesses to abandon the project without due cause."
One would think that identifying a better, or more urgent use for the money would constitute "due cause" and that "breaking the trust" would be a consideration only if local businesses had already invested significantly in the expectation of the project's completion and would suffer economically if it did not eventuate.
Is there any evidence to support the latter proposition?
In a separate, but adjacent column, Cr Stewart offered a puzzling distraction from the major point of contention.
He lamented the council's use of hyperbole - the way it uses inflated language to exaggerate the significance of its projects. He said "...the issue was not the projects themselves...but the oversell being used".
But in this case the issue very clearly IS the project itself.
And as Cr Stewart had nothing to say about the contentious "facelift" it may be assumed that he, like the other silent councillors, support it or merely acquiesce in its implementation.
It would have been much more interesting, and indeed, pertinent to have him express his views on the beautification project than to be informed of his preference for plain language.
Editor's note: Cr Dan Stewart has questioned the project's value on his Facebook page Dan 4 Gympie, saying "A number of us are far from convinced that it is worth the $1.5mill(ion) of rate payer money and $1.5mill(ion) of taxpayer money".