Redevelopment of Big Fruit Reserve to start

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Redevelopment of Cromwell’s ‘‘big green welcome mat’’, the Big Fruit Reserve, is set to start in the next few weeks and should be completed by November, the Central Otago District Council says.
Redevelopment of the area beside State Highway 8B was included as part of the $3 million-plus Cromwell town centre project first flagged by the council and the Cromwell Community Board in 2010.
To date, the Lode Lane toilets, landscaping of the northern edge of the mall and repainting of the Big Fruit sculpture have been completed.
However, plans to redevelop the reserve were put on hold when tenders were received and costs looked like spiralling to more than $1 million.
Properties and infrastructure manager Mike Kerr said it was decided in February that no tenders would be awarded as costings were ‘‘above expectations’’.
‘‘Instead, it was decided to negotiate a contract with a more acceptable number attached to it,’’ Mr Kerr said.
A contract would be signed this week with Alexandra firm Dunstan Contracting, which would work within a $770,000 budget.
‘‘It is not certain when the work will commence but we envisage within the next three to five weeks,’’ Mr Kerr said.
‘‘We are aiming to have it finished in November in time for the summer season.’’
The main feature of the redevelopment would be a ‘‘core green area’’ that would help lead people into the mall.
Plantings and stone landscaping in line with features in the northern section of the business centre would also be carried out as would the installation of new irrigation and the removal of older conifers.
‘‘Eventually, there will also be a playground but that could be undertaken as a separate project,’’ Mr Kerr said.
Last year, Cromwell Community Board chairman Neil Gillespie said in The News any notion that redevelopment of the reserve would be ‘‘dumped’’ because of cost was ‘‘ludicrous’’.
‘‘This is our big green welcome mat for the town of Cromwell and as long as we can get the cost to an acceptable level, we aim to make it as attractive as possible to both locals and visitors alike,’’ he said in July.