FINISH IN SIGHT: Member for Murray Austin Evans and Wentworth Mayor Melisa Hederics visit the almost completed $1.6million redevelopment of James King Park. Photo: PAUL MENSCH

By VINNIE RODI

THE $1.6million redevelopment of Gol Gol’s James King Park is edging ever closer to completion, much to the delight of Wentworth Shire Council Mayor Melisa Hederics.

Cr Hederics, and visiting Member for Murray Austin Evans, inspected ongoing works at the site on Wednesday, with latest estimates forecasting the project will be completed by the end of February 2018.

The project is jointly funded by Council and the NSW Government’s Boating Now Program.

“My aim would be to see the project well and truly completed by Easter 2018, which falls in March,” Cr Hederics said. “This area at Easter time is packed, as a lot of people watch the boats compete as part of the Mildura 100 ski race.

“We’re getting closer and closer. As was widely reported we were held up with Native Title concerns late last year, and that’s part of what we have to deal with in the Wentworth Shire.

“The weather has also played a part in stalling works at times.”

The $1.6million redevelopment has been carried out in three stages over a nearly five-year period, with completion of a houseboat mooring area and canoe launch area all that remains.

The canoe launching ramp will provide improved access to the river, with a floating pontoon allowing canoes to be eased into the water.

The current upgrade works also include a dual boat ramp, sealed paths, car parking area for boats and trailers and landscaping works.

Cr Hederics said that once complete, the site would become a hub for river users of all descriptions.

“From houseboats through to jet skis and speed boats, there will be designated areas established for each craft type,” she said. “This would without a doubt be Sunraysia’s most popular launching spot, and we have quite a few people from across the bridge who come and launch from this spot.

“The Murray River is the region’s gold mine… it’s what the people come to use.”

Council’s acting general manager, Simon Rule, said the project was also about providing people with passive and recreational needs outside of traditional sports and activities.

He said that a footpath from James King Park would eventually connect with existing pathways along the Sturt Highway.

“Which in turn connect right back to Mildura,” he said.

The James King Park redevelopment continues Council’s trend over the last few years of improving access to the river throughout the Shire.

“So far we’ve instigated upgrades at Bottle Bend, Dareton, Wentworth and here in Gol Gol,” Cr Hederics said “Buronga will also get looked at soon.

“The aim is to spread the load of traffic and launching spots across the Shire.”

Mr Evans, in addition to meeting with Council and “finding my way around the area,” was also in town to distribute $48,000 in funding under the Community Building Partnership Program.

Among the lucky recipients was the Wentworth Angling Club, with $6800 in funding granted to construct a disabled toilet. He also presented $20,000 to the Wentworth Football Netball Club, which will be put towards the development of a second oval in the township.

Mr Evans also met with Wentworth Area Skate Park committee members on Thursday to present them with $20,000 in funding.