Ballina bypass threatens town's trade
Ballina Chamber of Commerce Secretary Bryan Marriott said the upgrade must be completed by the time the bypass was constructed if the town was to remain a 'vibrant place people want to visit'.
“We need this completed so the town doesn't lose momentum,” he said.
The CBD project was to include beautification works, underground power, new stormwater drains and lighting. But it has been four years since the council has allocated any funding to it.
In 2002, it was expected the whole project would cost about $10 million, but it is not known how much it would be worth now.
About $4 million worth of works were completed, which included an upgrade of Lance Ferris (Fawcett) Park, widening of footpaths on one River Street block and underground civil works.
The Ballina Retail Strategy, released in 2003, states the bypass would result in some loss in trade, 'and hence there is a need to encourage development and changes to existing shops to service and encourage the growth of destination tourist business'.
But Ballina Mayor Phillip Silver said the council was spending as much money as it responsibly could in relation to community infrastructure.
He said the CBD upgrade was up against competing priorities, and that if it was put higher on the list of priorities it would be at the expense of other projects.
Cr Silver urged the community to focus on projects already budgeted for or under construction, such as the Alstonville main street upgrade, Lennox Head community centre and the Tamar Street multi-level car park facility in the Ballina CBD.
But Debbie Carter, owner of Wallace and Co Menswear, said the upgrade was important for the town's livelihood.
“We've waited long enough,” she said.
“Ballina has so much potential ... but it can be a lot better than what it is.”