PHOTOS/HAYLEY GASTMEIER

Parklet pain for businesses

PAM GRAHAM
pam.graham@age.co.nz

Business owners are up in arms about the parklet being put into Park St, saying it’s affecting a key service lane, deterring people who spend money and bringing in people who don’t.

They say they’ll lose money because of it and they’re big ratepayers, and it’s the third event planned by council that has disrupted their trade.

They say there are alternatives and the council hasn’t listened.

Work began on Monday on the parklet. One side of the road is being pedestrianised and filled with activities such as giant games, basketball hoops and skate-furniture for a month.

A replica of the first parklet on King St is also going in on Queen St outside Charlie’s Lane, beside Paper Plus.

Roger Southey of Southey’s Auto World isn’t keen on people playing ball games and skating right next to his cars.

He’s been in business there since 1976 and there had not been any problems with damage to cars for a long time since bars in the area closed and youths spent more time on electronic devices.

He says there’s a good skatepark nearby and if children are bored they should join the region’s good sports clubs.

“There’s no advantage to me,” he said. “They’re not buying cars.”

He said access to Cricket St, an important service lane, was affected.

“We will lose business,” he said. “I’ve spoken to Lyn [Patterson, Masterton Mayor] about it. They’re not listening.”

He said the strip of land down the middle of the road with dead flowers and dried bark in it could sensibly have been used.

Reece Pope of Autopaint Wairarapa says he’s not the sort to complain “but this is going to hurt my business because of the access”.

Customers who couldn’t find a carpark or had problems using the service lane would just drive to a competitor, a sentiment shared by Tony Roseingrave, a part owner of King and Henry.

Pope said his biggest customers were trade and they used the service way.

“This is my bread and butter,” he said.

Roseingrave said CBD businesses were big ratepayers and their concerns should be heard.

His business included trade in firearms and these customers used the service lane.

Catherine Rossiter-Stead, general manager Business Wairarapa, says the parklet should increase the foot traffic.

“I think the council’s parklet initiative is both exciting and brave, anything to give Masterton an uplift and a bit of vibrancy has to be good for the town.

“Hopefully, it will attract more people to the CBD and provide better connectivity through from Queen Elizabeth Park to the high street during the summer.”

Council chief executive Kath Ross said Park St was chosen because it links the town centre with Queen Elizabeth Park – joining the town’s assets is a key objective in the overall town centre strategy.

“The point of the initiative is to learn; we want to learn how our community uses space and what encourages more people to come into the town centre,” Ross said.

“Attracting more people into town will support retail spending, community connection and increase investor confidence.”

She said it was a temporary change and as with anything new there would always be teething issues.

“These types of initiatives have proven extremely successful for existing businesses in other locations because they create intrigue; people come in to see what’s going on and, by default, nearby businesses benefit from additional foot traffic.

“In addition, investors and new businesses are attracted to these vibrant areas.

“The insight we are gaining from businesses is incredibly important and we are committed to working with them as we progress the entire town centre strategy.”