Ballina CBD hopes 'down the drain'
By Mary Mann
WHAT ever happened to Ballina's proposed $10 million CBD upgrade program?
That's the question Ballina Chamber of Commerce and community members are now asking Ballina Shire Council after an apparent abandonment of the partially completed program in 2004.
The project was to include beautification works, underground power, new stormwater drains and street lighting throughout the CBD. But it's been three years since any work has been done on the project, and since council has allocated any funding to it.
In 2002 it was expected the whole project would cost about $10 million, but it's not known how much it would now be worth.
About $4 million worth of works were completed, which included an upgrade of Fawcett Park, widening of footpaths in one River Street block and some underground civil works.
However, Ballina Chamber of Commerce and Industry secretary Bryan Marriott said cutting the upgrade short had virtually side-swiped business and tourism in the town.
"There is nothing worse than poor footpaths and roads to dissuade shoppers," Mr Marriott said.
"It is vital for the community's confidence for council to complete what it started.
"We've been left hanging in the balance and Ballina deserves to be felt let down.
"People in the retail and hospitality industries especially were looking forward to the upgrade and many developers made decisions based on the proposed changes. Now nothing is happening because there is no funding.
"The Chamber will continue to push for this until the council moves to allocate funds to it."
Mr Marriott said the chamber had written to council on numerous occasions requesting work start on the Cherry Street/River Street area of the plans, which were envisaged to provide an extra 20 car parking spaces.
Council's civil services group manager John Truman said getting the project back on the agenda was a matter of council determining it as a priority, which was not done when the last budget was decided.
Ballina mayor Phillip Silver was unable to be contacted by The Northern Star yesterday.