TRADERS LEFT IN LIMBO –

Con­struc­tion at a stand­still as con­trac­tor goes into re­ceiver­ship

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - FRONT PAGE - Elisha Pearce

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

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