Council has commissioned a full site investigation of the Proserpine Entertainment Centre.
Council has commissioned a full site investigation of the Proserpine Entertainment Centre. Whitsunday Regional Council

Theatre plagued by 'seemingly endless compliance issues'

ANOTHER blow has been dealt to the beleaguered Proserpine Entertainment Centre, which 17 months on from Tropical Cyclone Debbie shows no sign of opening.

Whitsunday Regional Council has been locked in ongoing battles with insurance companies and panel builders in efforts to reopen the only cinema and cultural facility in the region located south of Bowen.

On Tuesday, council commissioned a full site investigation of the theatre after further non-compliance issues were discovered during repair work and indicated inherited problems with the building was the reason for further reopening delays.

Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor, Andrew Willcox said he was frustrated by "seemingly endless compliance and safety issues" being discovered during the reconstruction.

 

The Proserpine Entertainment Centre showing damage to the roof the day after Debbie hit.
The Proserpine Entertainment Centre showing damage to the roof the day after Debbie hit. Peter Carruthers

"Lengthy insurance delays and previous design flaws, the lengthy time frame for reopening the facility has been outside council's control," he said.

No new date has been set for the reopening.

In June, council announced the $500,000 had been pledged by the State Government to assist in the rebuild and predicted the centre will open around March next year.

Problems with air-conditioning and fire safety systems were encountered during the rebuild and were described as "historical design flaws and non-compliant renovations" which took place in the 1990s.

"Basically these new issues were constantly being found as a result of panels or walls being removed during the cyclone repair works," Cr Willcox said.

 

A military vehicle parked at the centre in the immediate wake of Cyclone Debbie.
A military vehicle parked at the centre in the immediate wake of Cyclone Debbie. Peter Carruthers

"The final straw was the discovery of missing roof beams at which point council ordered a full observation report which identified further potential safety and compliance issues.

"As a result council have now drawn a line in the sand and commissioned a full site investigation condition report by external consultants Ranbury."

"They will engage structural, mechanical, electrical and fire engineers to go over the PEC with a fine tooth comb so we have a clear picture of the total reconstruction works needed."

It is clear from the cost blow-out breakdown, the $500,000 received from the State Government will only cover about half the cost of the total rebuild.

 

The Proserpine Entertainment Centre remains closed.
The Proserpine Entertainment Centre remains closed. Peter Carruthers

Fire safety improvements alone will cost council $500,000, on top of what the insurance company is expected to payout.

Ratepayers will be forced to shell out $315,000 for a audio and lighting upgrade, $200,000 for air-conditioning/roofing and $50,000 for driveway resurfacing.

The Proserpine Entertainment Centre was not the only building to be severely damaged by Cyclone Debbie.

The Proserpine Plumbing Works building on Chapman St, the Department of Traffic and Main Roads building, the Cafe 22 building and the Pitt Stop Cafe all on Main St have all been demolished.

Division 3 Councillor and deputy mayor John Collins pointed out council was not "finger pointing" or blaming previous administrations for the building's problems.

"We just want to find out the full extent of the issues to ensure we can restore the PEC to its former glory," he said.

"I fully appreciate the extended closure of this facility has adversely impacted the arts and cultural landscape of Proserpine and its community."


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