TRADERS LEFT IN LIMBO –
Construction at a standstill as contractor goes into receivership
THE contractor tasked with upgrading the Queen St, St Marys streetscape has gone into receivership, halting work and leaving businesses with construction sites in front of their shops.
Work has been almost at a standstill for some time, according to business owners on the street, who say they have rarely seen more than one or two construction workers at a time.
St Marys Town Centre last week cancelled the popular St Marys Spring Festival scheduled for September, which brought 20,000 people to Queen St last year.
Town centre manager Paulette Adams said the decision was made because the ongoing works created an unsafe environment for patrons and stallholders.
Works included fenced-off and dug-up areas along the street, that have now been abandoned.
Penrith Council confirmed last Wednesday that Hargraves Urban, the company awarded the contract to upgrade Queen St, was in receivership.
A council spokesman said in a statement: “At the time council awarded the con- tract, Hargraves Urban was independently rated as financially sound.
“Council acknowledges while the current situation is regrettable it was also unforeseeable.”
The spokesman said the council was looking at options to ensure the Queen St works were completed as quickly as possible.
Penrith Mayor Karen McKeown said the council recognised the situation created a “difficult time” for local businesses.
“We are working to ensure that those works that are close to completion are finalised within the coming weeks,” Cr McKeown said.
“Construction on other sections of the street will start as soon as appropriate contractors are engaged.”
Ms Adams said in a statement the festival would return in 2017 “bigger and better than before”.
The town centre already is planning a separate event this year to coincide with the completion of the works. Ms Adams said she would try to incorporate aspects of the St Marys Spring Festival into that celebration.
A council spokesman said current works on the west- ern side of the street should be completed by October.
The section on the eastern side from Baldos Lane to King St hasn’t been started yet, and council will decide on timing for that section in the next month.
First-K Furniture and Bedding manager George Fang said the delays meant sales were slow but the upgrades would be worth it.
“It looks better now the trees aren’t there and with new lights,” he said.
Nisha Sweeten is upset about the slow pace of street upgrades in Queen St, St Marys, and (inset) part of the huge crowd at last year’s festival. Main picture: Carmela Roche