Parking stays

IT’S official — Maffra’s main street parking will remain parallel, after an overwhelming majority of respondents to a council survey favoured keeping the current layout.

Seventy-five per cent of responses to the Wellington Shire Council survey on the future of parking in Johnson St were opposed to introducing angle parking.

Wellington Shire Council will now finalise detailed designs for Maffra’s streetscape based on maintaining the existing parallel parking layout.

Council has also confirmed the controversial arbours at the pedestrian crossing will be replaced with new pedestals, flashing amber lights and overhead lighting, to improve pedestrian safety.

Mayor Carolyn Crossley said the survey also asked participants to choose a design for footpath treatments.

“We anticipate awarding a contract for the works prior to mid-year, and then we will see the roll-out of the preferred footpath style of exposed aggregate borders in-filled with a dark neutral coloured concrete,” she said.

“Maffra’s Johnson St is going to receive an impressive facelift without interfering with its natural beauty.”

Council will seek more community feedback early in the year regarding specific treatments of the area near the rotunda  and post office.

Two thirds of respondents indicated they wanted to see this area enhanced as part of the works, and council staff are currently developing some treatment options.

Maffra Business and Tourism Association president Marcus Stobie said it was “all systems go” in Maffra, adding his association fully supported the parking remaining parallel.

He said anything that could be done in Maffra to benefit businesses would provide a “leg-up” for the town.

“People need to understand you only get a crack at this every so often — if you miss this round and the money dries up and funding goes elsewhere, well then who’s to say it won’t be another 10 or 15 before you get this opportunity again?

“Maffra’s a beautiful place — people always comment on that — but we hope by enhancing the main street even further, it’s going to increase tourism, give local people a sense of calm and make them want to do their business in town.

“Long term, it’s going to benefit local business people.”

Mr Stobie said the business association began working with the council nearly a year ago to map out how to approach community consultation.

After initially only gaining a small amount of local commentary, Mr Stobie doorknocked businesses to let face-to-face feedback from the traders.

He said overwhelmingly, people wanted parking to remain the same.

“There were various reasons,” he explained.

“A lot of people were concerned about backing out into traffic, a large percentage of people said Maffra was unique the way it is — once it goes to angle, we’re stuck with that for another 20 years.

“Other people asked questions like, would we benefit from extra carparks from angle?

“The answer to that was pretty simply no; we’d probably remain very similar.”

Mr Stobie said it was likely the existing length of car parks would be increased to accommodate larger vehicles.

“When the lines were mapped out about 20 odd years ago, cars weren’t as big,” he said.

“Now a lot of people are driving around in SUVs and four wheel drives.

“It means if you drive into these service lanes and you see a car park, it’s got your name on it.

“We may lose a couple of car parks through the street, but utilisation and turnover will be greater.”

Mr Stobie added time restrictions may be enforced to stop the street’s congestion problems.

“There are a lot of people that park in those car parks all day long, whether it’s business people or people catching the bus,” he said.

Mr Stobie said the council’s consultation process had been thorough, and would remain as such as other elements of the design were installed.

“It was never the council’s intention to come in and just wipe what we have, and put angle parking in without the proper consultation process,” he said.

“If anyone has got any issues or any concerns they want to raise, they can contact the Maffra admin, likewise they can contact the shire.”

Overall, Mr Stobie was happy with the town’s progress.

“It’s just a process, and the first part was getting the parking right,” he said.

“In a nutshell, it’s just a win for the town. “It’s positive and it’s massive.”