AMANDA SAUNDERS, The West Australian August 25, 2010
Port Hedland has begun its transition in to a regional city with construction starting on the first major community projects, worth $56 million.
Port Hedland mayor Kelly Howlett said the three new projects, including a recreation centre, a “Kings Park of the North” and a youth centre, were more than just one-off projects. “These will be cornerstones of the new city and improve its liveability,” Ms Howlett said.
The social and community infrastructure projects are all in South Hedland, about 11km from the nation’s biggest port, and designed to attract families to the town.
“About two-thirds of the population is in South Hedland and that is where the council wants to see the growth in the population happen,” Ms Howlett said.
“We want families to come and live and stay . . . having pride in where you are living is a big part of this project.”
Port and South Hedland’s combined population of 19,500 is expected to jump almost 50 per cent and hit 40,000 by 2025.
The projects, a culmination of six years work by the council, are part of the State Government’s Pilbara revitalisation plan, and draw heavily on Royalties for Regions and the mining industry for funding.
Construction has started this month on the biggest, a $32.7 million multi-purpose recreation centre in South Hedland, at the Kevin Scott Oval on Hamilton Road, the main gateway to South Hedland.
The state-of-the-art indoor sport and recreation facilities will include function rooms, a fitness centre, three squash courts, an outdoor playground and childcare facilities. Work on the 4395sqm site, by Doric Construction, is due to be finished by March 2012.
Funding will come from Royalties for Regions ($11 million), BHP Billiton Iron Ore ($11 million), with Auzcorp and the council providing the $10.7 million balance.
“We (the council) are all passionate and proud of Port Hedland and we know its potential,” Ms Howlett said. “But it has been difficult to be able to convey that message and opportunity to get people to be as passionate and supportive as we are.”
Marquee Park, a $13.2 million 28,000sqm family fun park with water-play features, shaded barbecue areas, a kiosk and gardens, is expected to attract visitors from across the Pilbara. Earthcare Landscape will start construction this month, with the project expected to be completed in November next year.
“It will be a public access area like Kings Park, but of the north . . . in your Lonely Planet guide and on the tourist drive,” Ms Howlett said.
The project funders included BHP Billiton Iron Ore ($1.45 million), South Hedland New Living ($2 million), Royalties for Regions ($2.7 million), Newcrest Mining ($200,000), Lotterywest ($500,000) and the council ($6.35 million).
Town of Port Hedland acting chief executive Paul Martin said the “eye-catching” projects marked a change in mentality for the town.
“Part of the history of Port Hedland has been to build things in a short-term nature and one of the ways this phase will be different is that the designs are architecturally significant,” he said. “It is about building a city for the future.”
In the year to June 30, the value of building approvals issued by council was $241 million, compared with $10 million for 2004-05. Mr Martin put the huge increase down to a surge in interest from the private sector.
The third project, a $9.5 million redevelopment of the town’s existing 3000sqm recreational centre, is designed to create a youth services hub. The JD Hardie Youth Centre will provide a one-stop shop of health, recreation and support services for people aged 10 to 21. It will involve upgrading the existing building and adding 1200sqm of offices, meeting rooms and a youth lounge.
Due to be completed next May, it will provide a base for local government agencies, not-for-profit and allied community groups.
The project is being funded by the Royalties for Regions program ($3.15 million), BHP Billiton Iron Ore ($3.8 million), South Hedland New Living ($800,000), Newcrest ($200,000) and council ($1.55 million).
The council’s capital expenditure budget for this financial year is about $104 million.
Mr Martin said 12 per cent, or 2500 people, of the town’s population were fly-in, fly-out workers, and they were helping fund the new developments.