MAITLAND mayor Peter Blackmore has dismissed fears the city’s $14.7million Levee project could stall over a political fight.
The major two-part development, which its hoped would provide a facelift and injection of life to the ailing Heritage Mall precinct, is earmarked to take a step forward tonight.
Councillors will confidentially discuss a shortlist of contractors to oversee the riverside re-invention, inviting those who made the cut to submit a formal tender.
Work on the Levee is scheduled to start in early 2014 but the project had fallen under a cloud after a major portion of funding was caught in political crossfire.
The Newcastle Herald has reported the federal government labelled $7million Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon announced for the project shortly before the election a ‘‘hoax’’.
Mr Fitzgibbon has slammed the Liberal government for failing to honour the commitment.
Cr Blackmore said the 2014 start date for the Levee was unchanged and the council would ‘‘make a determination’’ on funding.
Potentially moving to the next stage on Thursday by selecting a head contractor sent a clear message about the project’s future, he said.
‘‘We are giving a commitment it will be going ahead,’’ Cr Blackmore said.
He said many businesses had prepared for work in that timeframe, a commitment the council was not taking lightly.
‘‘We are certainly very conscious to make sure we can stick to that [early 2014] timeframe,’’ Cr Blackmore said.
Maitland councillors unanimously voted to forge ahead with the two-stage $14.7million project in June.
It would open the mall to traffic as well as creating a ‘‘river link’’ structure to connect the shopping promenade with the riverbank.
FACELIFT: A council concept image of the Levee project.