WHEN the $16 million Arthurs Seat Skylift opens at the end of next year Simon McKeon wants his sister Di Bulman to be at the front of the queue.
Mr McKeon, who leads the consortium building the lift, said it was Mrs Bulman who inspired him to keep up his 10-year fight to win approval for the project.
“I’m not sure we would have got to this point without her,” he said.
“There was a point a few years back where the project costs kept going up and opposition to the plan was at its peak and I did wonder if it was worth continuing.
“Then I looked at my sister and knew that it was a battle that was worth fighting.”
Mrs Bulman is intellectually disabled and also needs a walker to get around. Her husband is in a wheelchair.
“They simply would not be able to use an open chairlift,” Mr McKeon said.
The consortium recently signed a 50-year-lease with the State Government and Mr McKeon said work on the gondola-style cable ride would begin as soon as possible.
The next step was to appoint contractors to build the lift stations and the lift mechanism, he said.
He said the consortium had “already done the leg work” and wasn’t expecting any delays in finalising those deals.
Mr McKeon said the signing of the lease also meant Parks Victoria could begin planning upgrades in the area worth $1.5 million in anticipation of the cable ride.
Nepean State Liberal MP Martin Dixon said the all-weather, all-abilities tourism infrastructure would help the regional economy grow through the off-peak season.
“The employment benefits provided by this project will reach far beyond Arthurs Seat and will benefit all of our tourism and agribusiness operators across the entire Mornington Peninsula,” Mr Dixon said.
Mr McKeon said despite the lease being signed for the project, the champagne was still on ice.
He said the consortium still had eight conditions remaining of its amended plans to negotiate with Mornington Shire Council.
The conditions include the project’s plans for construction, vegetation management and defendable space (in case of a fire).
They are expected to be ruled on tonight’s council meeting in Rosebud.
The council recently voted on the colour of the gondolas, choosing Pantone Process Blue, ahead of the historic red hue favoured by the consortium.
The key lobby group against the Skylift — Save Our Seat, has applied to VCAT for a review of that decision.