Six months to find funding

RUNDOWN: The fernery at Ballarat Botanical Gardens has fallen into a derelict state, but will soon undergo a major refurbishment to restore it.
RUNDOWN: The fernery at Ballarat Botanical Gardens has fallen into a derelict state, but will soon undergo a major refurbishment to restore it.

A proposed $4 million upgrade of Ballarat Botanical Garden’s fernery will have six months to win more funding before it undergoes a less costly makeover.

Cr Daniel Moloney said it was time to draw a line in the sand and get the project started.

“We been through this process for some time now,” he said.

“It is not a brand new project, the structure has been derelict for quite some time and I think council has been rightly criticised for allowing this to continue.

“My effort here is to put a line in the sand and say if we cannot secure additional funding lets get on and do it.”

Council was initially presented with two options for proceeding with the fernery’s redevelopment.

This included a staff recommendation to use the available budget to refurbish the site.

However an option was also presented to pursue a larger project presented in the architecture designs prepared for council. Friends of the Botanical Gardens representative Ralph Dixon said the group was puzzled by discussion of potentially using a new site.

“What we would very much like is to have further input into the decision making process,” he said.

“We very much want to discuss this before a final decision is made, through our project control group, which of course includes council.

“We appreciate the effort council has made to secure federal or state government funding and share you disappointment it was not granted.”

Mr Dixon said the group's preferred option would be more than just a fernery.

Despite a budget of $1.4 million for the site, the initial designs were costed at $4 million well above the budget allocation.

Refurbishment works would include structural repairs to the existing steel beams, new drainage and irrigation and recladding the existing structure.

Funding would also allow for some of the landscaping work in the redevelopment plan, but it would not cover the full proposal.

Works would be subject to approval from Heritage Victoria.

Stage one of the development had been scheduled for completion at the end of this year.

Council’s report on the proposal said the fernery had been degraded.