Flowers are stripped to just mulch at White Box Rise

LANDSCAPING of the main thoroughfare through the White Box Rise housing estate has been cleared in a move slammed as a waste of money.

Ron Calleja was sub-contracted to carry out the works in Victoria Cross Parade about three years ago.

Mr Calleja said the landscaping was done along a 750-metre stretch of the road, from Pearce Street to the large roundabout near the Greenfreight depot.

“The deal was that it was passed by (Wodonga Council) on the basis that the centre strip be done with different species of native plants,” he said.

Mr Calleja said his business, R & R Pastoral, was appointed to do the job by a Melbourne contractor.

But what was once plants is now mulch, after Mr Calleja said the last centre strip of plants was cleared last Friday.

“We did the job and then we had a further 13-week period of the maintenance to ensure the plants didn’t die by doing watering, which we did,” he said.

“We then applied for the maintenance on that particular part of the road through the developer.”

Mr Calleja — whose comments are his own and not the views of the developer — said his business carried out maintenance for another two years.

“And then the job was to be handed over to council,” he said.

“The council sent out two consultants and they made sure it was up to the standard the council wanted and then they took it over.”

Mr Calleja said that was 18 months ago.

“As soon as they got it they gave it a haircut — they cut two metres off either side of the median strip planting,” he said.

“They had a contractor come in and they mulched it all, leaving a strip of plants in the middle.”

Mr Calleja said the initial job and maintenance was $220,000, for which he was fully paid.

“The next thing I know they’ve mulched the whole lot in — that happened last Friday,” he said.

Mr Calleja said that was a waste of money.

But a council spokesman said the plants were in a deteriorating condition when the city took over the management of the area in various stages in 2012 and last year.

“Some plants were cut back due to resident requests for safety reasons at the roundabouts, while others were trimmed back to encourage growth,” he said.

“Unfortunately, some of the plants continued to deteriorate, failed to thrive and were untidy.

“The council plans low-cost plantings in similar designs to other areas nearby, which will also allow for easier maintenance.”

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