Sturt Reserve revamp ‘may take some years’, depending on funding, Murray Bridge council's Andrew Meddle warns

Part of a 2017 concept plan for Sturt Reserve's proposed
Part of a 2017 concept plan for Sturt Reserve's proposed "play precinct", including a river beach, wetland-themed play area, expanded skate park and additional houseboat moorings. Image: GHD Woodhead/Rural City of Murray Bridge.

Sturt Reserve's revamp is coming, but Murray Bridge "needs to be prepared for the long game", a council report says.

Visions of a river beach, splash play area, playground and events space unrivalled in regional South Australia have persisted in the latest version of the master plan for the reserve.

The biggest hurdle to overcome now was funding, sustainable communities general manager Andrew Meddle said in his report.

The "play precinct" alone will cost about $14.5 million, and the rest of the riverfront upgrade – potentially including a new visitor information centre, eateries and a riverside war memorial – up to $20 million.

But rushing ahead with isolated parts of the plan would only cost ratepayers millions more in the long term, Mr Meddle advised.

"Delivery is not expected imminently," he warned.

"Grant funding ... may take some years to secure."

On Monday night, councillors gave their staff the thumbs-up to add detail to the plan, getting it ready to show off whenever state, federal or other funding opportunities came up.

But some councillors raised concerns about two ideas flagged in the master plan.

No decision has yet been made about whether to close a section of the ring road, Murray Cods Drive; but Cr Airlie Keen was uncomfortable about the possibility.

"To exclude vehicles 24 hours a day, seven days a week, seems to be an extreme step," she said.

Cr Tod Cusack disagreed, saying the road closure would make the area safer for children.

"While you've got the playground on one side and the river on the other, (the road) doesn't fit to me," he said.

Cr Keen also worried about the possible closure of the boat ramp near the wharf.

At her request, councillors inserted a guarantee: it could not be removed unless the boat ramp at the southern end of the reserve was widened and resurfaced first.

An upgrade which would allow more than one boat to be launched at once was promised to the organisers of the SA ski racing championships in 2014, when Murray Bridge won the event back from the Riverland.

Mayor Brenton Lewis suggested that promise was likely to be fulfilled in 2018-19.

However, chief executive Michael Sedgman reassured those present that Monday night's vote was about allowing staff and RSL members to keep developing the plans, and that nothing was set in stone.

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