THE former Oscar W’s site will stay empty for the next 12 months — at least.
Weeks after Campaspe Shire mayor Adrian Weston said approval for federal funding was ‘‘expected any day’’ to fix the retaining wall next to the building, they are still waiting.
The building, owned by council, has been sitting as a wasted shell for three years and come summer will be once again unusable for a fourth peak tourism season.
Preferred tender Paul Jarman said he was ‘‘disappointed’’ with the delays and would ultimately ‘‘love it to be open tomorrow’’.
‘‘But we are still 100 per cent committed to opening Jarman’s Portside Echuca when we are able to,’’ he said. ‘‘It is disappointing and ultimately the retaining wall has really held the project up for the past 12 months.
‘‘The community understandably keep questioning why it is taking so long and are rightfully disappointed that it is not open.’’
Mr Jarman said the process was multi-layered.
‘‘The process you have to go through to deliver a project like this on crown land is extensive which includes layers of government and that is where the delays stem from,’’ he said.
Campaspe Shire chief executive Jason Russell said council was still in the process of securing the $1.5 million from the National Disaster Financial Assistance Fund.
‘‘The retaining wall was destabilised after the flood and storm events of mid-2016 and these works are required to stabilise the bank prior to any works on the adjacent Murray Esplanade building,’’ he said.
‘‘Once funding is confirmed, it is hoped to have a tender out for the retaining wall works later this year and awarded before Christmas.
‘‘This would see retaining work start early in the new year to be completed by June 30.
‘‘In the meantime, council is actively working with the preferred tender, Paul Jarman, to progress the Crown Land leasing requirements for the site.’’
Mr Russell said council was aware of the high community interest in the precinct.
‘‘Where possible we have been activating the Murray Esplanade frontage space for major events, such as the weekend’s festival with a kids area, and the peak tourist season with young local artists,’’ he said. ‘‘Whilst these delays are not ideal, the precinct is still open for business, highlighted through a great weekend of music, with thousands of people flocking to the area to enjoy the venues and music.
‘‘We would like to assure the community the retaining wall and the Murray Esplanade building are of the highest priority for council.’’