WORK could soon start on repairs to a riverfront restaurant in Ballina that had its roof ripped off during a freak storm in February.
The former Pelican 181 cafe was closed at the time of the storm, but the owners of Fishheads had agreed to take over the lease.
The lease had not been signed at the time of the damage to the building.
Yesterday councillors voted to accept a tender of $269,000 for the repairs and alterations to the Fawcett St restaurant from Bennett Constructions.
The council has agreed to pay $153,000 of that cost, which includes an insurance payment of $78,000.
But the full value of the contract will not be accepted until it is confirmed that Fishheads will provide the shortfall of about $115,000.
If the owners of Fishheads are not prepared to pay that amount, the works will need to be reassessed to meet the council's budget.
Failure to reach an agreement on the works could lead to the council looking for a new tenant.
The council's general manager, Paul Hickey, said negotiations had been slow going because one of the owners of Fishheads, Ralph Mamone, was overseas and difficult to contact.
"If we can't get a decision shortly we will have to go and find another tenant," he said.
"It's been dragging on and on."
However Mr Hickey said he believed Fishheads was committed to reopening the Fawcett Park restaurant, and said the council wanted to work with them to make that happen.
Bennett Constructions advised the work would take about 10 weeks.
Subject to weather, the restaurant could be open in time for the Christmas rush.
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