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Cr Johnson breaks ranks on Park St

Graphic/Boffa Miskell Report

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Masterton district councillor Bex Johnson says the debacle of the Park St parklet could have been avoided as there was plenty of discussion with businesses affected beforehand.

In a further development on Friday, onlookers reported seeing cars going down the wrong side of the road, including a near-miss during the morning.

Also, Roger Southey of Southey’s Auto World pointed out a drawing of the controversial parklet in the Boffa Miskell report commissioned by the council and released last August, which had the parklet only going down half the street at the library end and traffic moving in both directions on the other side with some parking.

The parklet is a trial for a month and there has been outrage that it is blocking off one side of the street between Queen and Dixon streets.

There are supporters and activities are gearing up with a skateboard workshop there on Saturday.

Councillor Bex Johnson. PHOTO/FILE

Johnson, who is standing again for council this year, said the thing that frustrated her was the problems with the parklet could have been avoided “because they’d been raised so many times before”.

She said the situation was a debacle.

“We shouldn’t even be in this position,” she said.

“Why didn’t they reposition the parklet and change the size of it and keep everybody happy.”

The whole situation lacked common sense, she said.

If something wasn’t working it was easy enough to address – “just move it all up the street a bit”, she said.

She said the parklet itself was “really cool” and it was important for councils to try new things.

Richard Dahlberg said on the Wairarapa Midweek Facebook page that he witnessed a near-miss on Friday morning of “someone going the wrong way”.

Johnson replied: “I agree with you. I have raised countless times over the past year about the importance of vehicle access and maintaining commercial activity. I also met with Roger Southey last year about Cricket St and spoke to Lyn (Mayor Lyn Patterson) and council and Boffa Miskell about these same concerns. So, it’s doing my head in too!”

Southey also said he saw a car going the wrong way on Friday, but it stopped and turned around before anything happened.

Johnson said she had been to see Southey again.

“I support him and others concerns,” she posted on Midweek. “It was mad to close off Cricket St. The parklet could have been positioned so as not to affect Cricket St access as per the original concept drawing.”

She was also hearing the noise from the parklet was affecting businesses near it.

The biggest gripe from business has been the loss of access to Cricket St, which is a key access lane in the area.

Councillor Jonathan Hooker has said there are still ways for people to access Cricket St but it may take a minute or so longer and couriers could use different routes.

Southey said he wanted to know whether the plan for Park St illustrated in the Boffa Miskell report showing two-way traffic on the northern side of Park St and parking is what the council intend to do in the future.

“I don’t seem to be able to track anyone down on that,” he said.

“I’m sitting and watching at the moment.”

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