Open the gate, mate

Councillors and Springvale Asian Business Association members dig in at the gateway site last week. 122331 Picture: GARY SISSONS

FOUNDATIONS are finally being prepared for Springvale’s long-awaited Asian Gateway.
Members of the project proponents, the Springvale Asian Business Association as well as Greater Dandenong Council staff and councillors announced the controversial project’s go-ahead last week.
SABA spokesman Stan Chang was reluctant to concede the decade-long struggle for the project was finally over. “We’re already planning for the worst,” he joked.
“This whole project is for the common good. We have tried to accommodate everybody.”
Councillor Youhorn Chea said the gateway would become Springvale’s “icon” – a testament to its flourishing Asian community.
“It has been my dream as well.
“It is a tribute to refugees who came here to live and have done very well. A lot of businesspeople have worked hard and become millionaires.”
Councillor Sean O’Reilly said it was right for the council to support Springvale’s businesses behind the project.
Mayor Jim Memeti said the project was part of an investment injection in the town, including the recent grade separation and railway station transformation.
Doubts had surfaced among councillors as recently as April over a possible cost blowout – with tenders for the nine-metre gateway exceeding $1 million.
The council had wavered, but recommitted to the project, managing the creation itself and reining in the budgeted cost to $650,000.
Before that, the South East Melbourne Vietnamese Association had attacked the “too Chinese” design – leading to a compromise including Chinese, Cambodian, Vietnamese and English calligraphy.
The project is co-funded by the council, SABA ($200,000) and the state Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship ($175,000).
The nine-metre tall gateway at the corner of Windsor and Buckingham avenues is expected to be finished by late this year or early next year.
– Cam Lucadou-Wells