News / Council

More cash needed to complete troubled park

Opening of the Frith Street park will not be until August at the earliest

The new park still looks a long way from finished.

Mark Phillips

A NEW park in Frith Street in Brunswick has incurred another blowout, bringing the overall cost of construction to almost 60% above its original budget. 

Merri-bek Council has been forced to approve a $650,000 increase to the project’s budget bringing the overall cost to $8.3 million. 

It is the fourth extension from the original budget of $5.2 million. 

Despite all the extra money that has been poured into it, the park has missed another completion deadline and is now unlikely to be open to the public until August at the earliest, well over 12 months later than originally planned. 

Get more stories like this delivered to your inbox

Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

HTML Button Generator

Engineering and construction work on the site began two years ago in June 2022 and has been painstakingly slow since then as unforseen structural and contamination issues have been discovered.  

The latest cost increase is due to further engineering redesign, more soil contamination being found, and additional demolition works being required. 

Just a couple of months ago, Merri-bek Council told Brunswick Voice that the park would be open by June this year and no more cost increases were anticipated. 

That was after another four-month delay until work began in January following the discovery of structural defects in a brick wall on the south side of the park which has had to be demolished and rebuilt. The budget for the project was most recently increased in August last year by $1.1 million.  

But that contigency has been completely exhausted after the latest problems were found. Construction works have been continuing on weekends, but there is no sign the park is close to being open to the public with security fencing and scaffolding surrounding it. 

Read more:

Work to start on new park, but at a cost

The park is being built on the site of the former Fletcher Jones offices in Frith Street, behind the Duke of Edinburgh hotel car park. The site combines the façade of the Fletcher Jones building on the Howarth Street corner, and a steel foundry on the Lobb Street corner. 

The council bought the 2700 square metre site in 2019 as part of its A Park Close To Home initiative to create more open space in built up areas of the city. 

The best case scenario is now for the work to be completed at the end of July, but no date has been announced when the park would be open to the public.  

A report to the council meeting on June 12 said the site had latent conditions that had not been detected when the contract tender was awarded in February 2022. In addition, the amount of contamination found at the site was “beyond what could have been reasonably expected”. 

New contamination was discovered in April this year, along with more structural problems in the metal pillars which support the brick wall. 

The extra amount of $650,135.53 will be drawn from a public resort and recreation land reserve which has $21.5 million available. 

One of the park’s chief proponents, South ward councillor Mark Riley who was Mayor at the time the project started, said the council had little choice but to green light the extra spending. 

“To not continue this now would be a failure in my view so we’re caught between a rock and a hard place of having to dip into our capital to do this, but it’s an important project and we want to get it finished by the end of the year,” he said. 

Councillor Lambros Tapinos, who has previously said he was close to running out of patience with the cost blowouts, voted against the latest budget increase. 

To compound matters, the park still does not have a name after councillors in May rejected the preferred option of Yubup Park that emerged from a public vote.  

Yubup, which means parrakeet in Woi-wurrung language, was the most popular of the five shortlisted names. But the council has now invited further community feedback before finalising the name in August. 

Support independent local journalism

We are an independent hyperlocal news organisation owned and run by the people in your community. With your support, we can continue to produce unique and valuable local journalism for Brunswick and the inner north of Melbourne. 

Latest stories: