Sturt Reserve, Murray Bridge master plan revealed | POLL, CONCEPT IMAGES

A heated dispute between a councillor and a staff member has overshadowed the release of the final plan for Murray Bridge's riverfront.

Although the Murray Bridge council approved the Sturt Reserve master plan, detailed below, on Monday night, Cr Airlie Keen accused CEO Michael Sedgman and his staff of failing to provide heritage advice councillors had requested.

"Council (staff) have overlooked the resolution the council made in December and we need to make amends for that," she said.

"There are a couple of references to heritage throughout the plan but in no way is there sufficient work about identity or history or what can boost our tourism from that history."

Mr Sedgman advised the other elected members not to support Cr Keen's accusation, which he said bordered on a behavioural issue.

"Your administration acted on that resolution and incorporated heritage advice as part of the brief to the consultants,” he said.

"You need to be careful in accusing your administration of doing something it didn't do."

Cr Keen ultimately agreed to withdraw the accusation at the request of Mayor Brenton Lewis, who said it would have undermined efforts to build respect between councillors and staff.

The master plan contains much more specific detail than the riverfront strategy the Murray Bridge council approved in May 2016.

It splits Sturt Reserve into four precincts: tourism and history near the wharf, recreation from there to the community club, play along the rest of the riverfront, and accommodation and events on the former landfill site.

Highlights of the plan include:

  • A riverfront play area including a river beach, shallow splash play area and extension of the existing playground
  • Conversion of Murray Cods Drive into a two-way road with more parking, but cut in the middle to prevent drivers from speeding straight through
  • A stage, dog park, more seating and barbecues, more native plants and more houseboat moorings
  • A new information centre with a cafe and function space
  • A new war memorial near the wharf
  • Decommissioning of the boat ramp
  • Closure of the wharf to most vehicular traffic
  • A new public toilet and art celebrating the Murray Cods adjacent to Murray Bridge Rowing Club’s new premises, which are soon to be built

Council staff had envisioned a caravan park, holiday cabins or camping in the fourth precinct, but the master plan recommended open space or new sporting fields.

Some works, including construction of a link with Long Island Reserve and more investigation of the old landfill site, will get started within the current financial year.

But none of the rest – especially the removal of the boat ramp, cutting-down of any trees and closure of the through road – are done deals, as each will have to be budgeted for and approved by councillors over the next few years.

The entire project’s cost has been estimated at $34.6 million.

In a report, sustainable communities general manager Andrew Meddle said the big price tag was the reason multiple stages of planning work had been necessary.

"Council now needs to determine whether the master plan meets the aspirations of the community," he said.

"If the proposals presented do meet those aspirations, then work will be undertaken to ... ensure that what is delivered will represent value for money and will have the desired impact."

After that, the council will put together a brief for companies able to turn the vision into a reality, and award design-and-build contracts through a tender process.