Future look? An artist’s impression of what Park St could look like. GRAPHICS/SUPPLIED
Think bigger than the town hall – time is running out to have a say on plans to reshape Masterton’s whole town centre, and it is about more than deciding the fate of one building.
Masterton District Council wants feedback on some big ideas – things such as moving the library to somewhere with a view of the river, making access to green spaces less of hazardous dash across multiple lanes of traffic, and providing better access between the town centre and the railway station.
Creating views of the Tararuas would involve making Bruce and Park streets more pedestrian-friendly, with upper Dixon St ‘detuned’ to slow traffic, making it feel more like a road within a park.
While $3.63m over 10 years is included in the council’s Long Term Plan consultation document, a further $6m is signalled as a possible option to expand ideas in years six and seven.
If all the “four big ideas” contained in the council’s ‘Shaping Our Town Centre’ come to fruition, more money would be needed but would be consulted on in future LTPs.
The consultation closes at 4.30pm on Monday and Mayor Lyn Patterson wants feedback.
The ideas come after two years of consultation by Massey University, including considerable contact with schools, and parents, where there was a clear emphasis on access to green spaces and views of the mountains.
“The feedback was very strongly about our connection to our trees, our river, and the Tararuas,” Mrs Patterson said.
The town centre was last revamped 22 years ago, when green seating and paving were introduced.
“It looked good 22 years ago but now we need to do something more.
“These are big ideas and they can be expensive. That’s why we want feedback on what people think of these ideas.”
Results from Massey were consolidated by urban design company, Boffa Miskell, with partner and urban planner Marc Baily saying Masterton presents some unique challenges and opportunities.
“We’re trying to get away from the term CBD and using town centre because it’s about creating a social centre, where people want to be,” he said.
“It’s where they can get a range of experiences,” he said.
“The ideas are really more about the dynamics of the town than the structure.”
While the ideas will make the centre more pedestrian-friendly, they’re not anti-car, Mr Baily said.
“Cars bring people, particularly in a rural community.
“If you take cars off a road, it takes a lot of people to fill that space, to make it feel inhabited, and that’s important.
“In Hawera, they took the cars off the main street and eight years later they opened the road to cars again.”
Managing how roads are used, however, is important.
Lincoln Rd is the only route directly across town, but Mr Baily said using other roads forced drivers to make multiple manoeuvres to do the same thing.
“It’s about being clear about what a road needs to do,” he said.
And he believes the river can play a central role in shaping the town.
“Masterton is a river town – the only one in Wairarapa — Queen St used to be called Bridge St because there were so many bridges on it.
“That connection to the river could be reflected in some of the design elements in the town centre,” he said, and it could be even clearer at the top end of town, where flood protection measures could have a dual purpose.
“If you’re going to address the flood risk, it’s an opportunity bring the town to face the river,” he said.
Mrs Patterson said while the council was limited in what it could do, it was broad in its scope.
“Council’s role in the town centre is about infrastructure – it can’t set up businesses.
“But it can make the centre a place that people want to be, and if people want to be there, businesses will come,” she said.
She encouraged people making a submission to think of the big picture.
“People sometimes say, ‘Why should we make a submission, you do what you want anyway?’
“But they may comment on one element — the Town Hall, or the CBD, or the parks — but the council has to make decisions looking at the bigger picture.
“We really want people’s feedback on this.”
Information on ‘Shaping Our Town Centre’ is available on the council website.