Mayor turns fist sod on $17m project
By Alex Easton
LISMORE mayor Merv King wasn't on the council when he joined the push to build a recreation centre at Goonellabah; and he won't be on the council when his $17 million dream comes true next year.
The man who led the council which finally delivered the long-awaited centre is retiring at the September 2008 council elections about three months before the centre is expected to open. But he will have his name on the foundation stone, and you can bet he'll be there the day the centre opens.
Cr King yesterday unveiled the foundation plaque at the centre's site opposite the Goonellabah Shopping Village before using a shiny steel spade to dig out the official first shovel-load of dirt to mark the construction of the recreation centre.
However, unofficially, construction has been under way on the site for the better part of a week and, as if to underline that point, a big yellow excavator brought in for the photo ripped up a small pile of dirt and grass shortly before the ceremony.
Cr King said the main contract for the recreation centre, which had been awarded to Spantech the same company that built the Trinity Catholic College Lismore sports complex was worth $13 million.
However, other elements of the project not included in the Spantech contract, such as a skate park and the rehabilitation of Tucki Tucki Creek, would lift the overall cost of the project to $17 million.
Funding for the centre includes $580,000 from the Federal Government.
"It will be very good to see this," Cr King said.
"I was on the committee looking at this before I even got on to council in the early 1990s, and at last it's come to fruition and that's great.
"The centre will provide plenty of activities for everyone, and will especially cater for young people."
Lismore City Council general manager Paul O'Sullivan said he hoped the Goonellabah Recreation Centre would take less than 12 months to build, but that the council had built extra time into the contract to allow for any unforseen construction delays.
Once complete, the centre will feature items such as a pool complex and water play area, indoor sports courts, a youth activity centre, a child-minding area, a fitness centre, administration offices, a cafe, a skate park, and car-parking spaces.