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Parklet to close early

The sign in this photo is no longer correct, as the parklet in Park St is closing early. PHOTO/FILE

Council: Town centre rejuvenation project has $3.6m budget

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Masterton District Council has backed down and will close the Park St parklet early but says it still wants better links between the town centre and Queen Elizabeth Park.

Half of Park St between Queen and Dixon streets has been closed to create the parklet, disrupting the service lane of Cricket St and creating noise, angering businesses.

It will close two weeks early, with normal traffic resuming on January 28.

A letter was sent to businesses on Monday saying the decision had been made in the interests of “working collaboratively with our business community”.

“We have already learnt lessons around the Park St initiative, including that our engagement with the wider group of affected business owners could have been better – please accept our sincere apologies if this applies to you,” the letter says.

The council says it’s committed to testing the full initiative, and is getting fantastic feedback from some businesses, but decided to reach a compromise to shorten the trial length.

The Times-Age understands the last straw was a complaint about noise from a financial firm, but that business preferred not to speak about it publicly.

Earlier Councillor Bex Johnson said the problems with the parklet could have been avoided and it should be reduced in size, although she supported the idea of trying new things.

Roger Southey of Southey’s Auto World said it was a sensible move by the council and there needed to be discussion about the future.

“There is a way to work through this,” he said.

“I can see what they are looking to do.

“I’m not opposed to it but in its current form, in closing the roads that affect our access, it’s not in my picture.

“I have ideas, and I am sure others do as well, about how it can work.”

It was a matter of a bit of common sense being applied to the whole thing, Southey said.

Reece Pope from Autopaint said the shorter trial was a help but it did not fix the immediate issues.

He does a lot of business with trade customers who use his backdoor in Cricket St.

“If it was shortened up it wouldn’t have bothered me,” he said.

“They could have had it here the whole time.”

He said most of the time only one end of the parklet was being used anyway.

The council said its town centre rejuvenation project has a budget of $3.63 million and people can see the 10 key projects on www.mastertontown.nz

The first phase was about testing ideas, including the parklets on King and Queen streets and the pedestrianised space on Park St.

“The learnings from this phase will feed into the design of any proposed permanent changes,” council said in the letter.

Council has also opened a survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/6MDQHNL

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