Chamber calls for Bair Street action

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Chamber calls for Bair Street action

BUSINESS closures, lifeless gardens and limited parking are killing the attractive vibe in Leongatha’s Bair Street.

Existing business owners are itching for action, but their questions will be left unanswered until South Gippsland Shire Council’s April meeting.

Regardless, Leongatha’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Peter Watchorn is confident things are looking up for the town’s central business district.

“We invited council representatives to our meeting on March 7, which generated some excellent discussion,” he said.

“It was good to hear Bair Street is now a council priority and I think everyone will start to feel a bit better once we see some progress.”

Council’s director of development services Bryan Sword said the Bair Street rejuvenation project may be council’s most important project due to the opportunities it presents.

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to be able to renew your main street, but it’s for this reason we don’t want to rush things,” he said.

“We want to minimise the waiting time as much possible, but it’s better to have the alternate route fully functional before we start redesigning Bair Street. It’s not feasible to work on both projects at the same time. Council’s April meeting will provide more answers.”

Chamber meeting chairman Peter Western said Leongatha provided a lot of excellent services – its schools, medical facilities and sport clubs topped his list of examples – but Bair Street has been a growing concern for residents and business owners for years.

“Successive councils have focused on the bypass, which is marvellous, but it was at the expense of Leongatha’s retail following. Leongatha has seen two new schools, a new hospital and Splash built, but Bair Street was put on hold for what seemed to be a mythical bypass,” he said.

“Businesses have been closing every month and it’s astonishing to hear the Leongatha revitalisation project has only just made it on the priority list. It’s time for a new campaign.”

However, some business owners were disappointed a budget and a timeframe could not be specified at the meeting.

Leongatha Travel and Cruise’s Ed Carmody said Bair Street was a dead part of town which needed a fixed timeframe and Brenton Williams of BJ’s Earthmoving said business owners were concerned they would be back to square one if council do not approve an expensive street design.

“We need to have some idea of the budget before it goes to council. If we go in blind and council throw out our chosen design because it’s too dear, it will be back to the consultation process,” he said.

Mr Sword said the budget would be made known after a preferred detailed design was selected.

“The design choice will ultimately determine the budget, and we will encourage councillors to realise the outcome outweighs the expenditure,” he said.

Cr Nigel Hutchinson-Brooks said a new look Bair Street was something everyone wanted, but it had to be done properly.

“Some people want to see green in Bair Street, while others want to see more car parking. At the council meeting we will have to consider designs at both ends of the spectrum,” he said.

“While we appreciate the concerns, people must understand council is a long distance runner, not a sprinter.”

Mr Sword said council would continue to work with consultants to reach a solution for Bair Street.

New ideas:  Leongatha’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry secretary Sandra Fleming and president Peter Watchorn are keen to get their ideas for improving Leongatha’s Bair Street off the ground to bring life back to the town.

New ideas: Leongatha’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry secretary Sandra Fleming and president Peter Watchorn are keen to get their ideas for improving Leongatha’s Bair Street off the ground to bring life back to the town.

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Posted by on Mar 16 2016. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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