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Residents fail to fire on parking

Parking was free in Masterton during the winter. PHOTO/MARCUS ANSELM

 

MARCUS ANSELM

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More than 200 Masterton motorists have voiced opinions on the district council’s latest public engagement, on parking in Wairarapa’s biggest town, but it did not provoke emotive responses from many residents.

The locals responded to a Masterton District Council survey which closed on Friday on car parking in the CBD.

A district council initiative to provide free parks in the major shopping area ended on August 31.

It was part of a covid-19 recovery package set up by MDC in April.

In the meantime, the council has announced plans to make changes to the set-up of the town’s central business district. In June, councillors approved the redevelopment of lower Queen St.

Almost a third of car parks will be lost between Jackson and Perry streets in the Masterton Town Centre Revamp.

The redevelopment includes widening and upgrading pedestrian areas, creating public amenity space, including seating and upgraded lighting, and removing curbs along the segment of the street to facilitate possible pedestrianisation in the future.

There will also be new gardens and additional trees planted, with careful consideration given to maintenance requirements.

But there will also be 13 fewer parks in the area between Jackson and Perry St.

Some respondents to the council’s annual plan were enthusiastic over a pedestrian only shopping centre in the middle of Wairarapa’s biggest town.

However, locals questioned on the potential changes seemed indifferent.

Derek Styles said he tended to walk most places in town, but did not see the point in changing the setup.

“I can’t see why they want to meddle with it,” he said. “I don’t think it’s that bad. But I lived 30 years in Wellington. I was just reading about them mucking around with the parking on Lambton Quay and the Golden Mile.

“It’s not broken. Why spend so much time trying to fix it? You just upset all the retailers, and all the customers.”

Fellow resident Stephen Davis said he often went by foot.

He said he would not mind if changes were made to Queen St, but he also had concerns about shopping in the area.

“I think that would drive people away from retailers, and shopping in Queen St might suffer.

“But I’m reasonably relaxed about it being the way it is, with the sleeping policemen.”

Mark Rogers, owner of Queen St’s Bear Flag Books and Retro, reiterated his stance from a previous council announcement on the CBD redevelopment.

“While I’m happy to see fewer cars on the road, this is a rural community ill-served by public transport so shoppers rely on their vehicles,” he said.

Shanna Vatselias, MDC’s Communications and Marketing Manager, said the survey had “provided us with valuable insights about what motivates people to park in different locations”.

“For example, it’s confirmed that the biggest factor impacting people’s choices is convenience and the perception that parking on Queen St will enable them to get into stores faster.

“It has also provided interesting insights like the fact that the majority of people would park in a different location if they thought closer parks could be better used by others, like people with limited mobility or with young children.

“The insights gathered through this survey will be used in the future to help inform any decisions around how we manage parking in our town centre.”

Work on the revamp is likely to start around April next year, depending on contractor availability.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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