Going west for inspiration for Prince Street
GRAFTON business veteran Des Harvey says any plans to revamp Grafton's CBD should take a lead from Tamworth.
Mr Harvey continued his campaign to rejuvenate the Grafton CBD with a fact-finding mission to Tamworth over Easter to look at what it had done with its main drag.
"If you compare Prince St and Peel St, in Grafton there is 46m between building alignments, while Tamworth has just 35m to work with," he said.
"Yet in Tamworth they have created much more space on the footpaths."
Mr Harvey, who was at the heart of the last major upgrade of the town centre between 1997 and 2001, said the time was right for changes to the main street.
"With the RMS changing the route of the Summerland Way to Villiers St, some of the restrictions for Prince St will be relaxed," he said.
"I am now a past president and current board member of the Grafton Chamber of Commerce, but in terms of this project, I speak only as a Grafton citizen. This proposal would be worthy of Chamber's support."
He said the first issue to be tackled was the one-hour parking limit in the main street.
"I believe it is time to revisit the beautification process and consider parking which is at a premium and now limited to just one hour a good place to start," he said.
"However, with the rapid expansion of Grafton, this might be only a small element of Grafton's strategic needs."
Tamworth's Peel St had many characteristics in common with Prince St, but the New England city had done more with them.
"Its topography is flat, suffers from flooding; parking is a premium and the street is uncovered," Mr Harvey said.
"Peel Street is approximately 10 metres narrower than our Prince Street and probably the same length as our Block 3, however the pedestrian footpaths are wider and paved.
Mr Harvey said Burnie in Tasmania, where sections of the main street are covered so pedestrians can cross the road in all weather, was another inspiration.
"Burnie has a similar population to Grafton but a five- deck carpark, which at 10am on the day we visited only had 293 car parking spaces left," he said.
"Murwillumbah with a smaller population has a three-deck car park. It is now Grafton's turn."
Mr Harvey said with the new bridge on track to open next year, it was time to being planning.
He said the key issues to be addressed were:
Review of Block 3 one-hour parking limit to possibly two hours to allow shoppers more time.
Wider footpaths, centre parking as exist in Blocks 2 and 5
Multi deck carpark, nose to tree-lined kerb parking,
Extension of footpath as blisters for alfresco dining in the centre of Block 3, in front of and linking The Link, Harveys Arcade and City Centre Arcade.
Block 3 fully weather protected from kerb to kerb, or at least in the centre of the block in the alfresco dining area.
Mr Harvey said his experience from 1997 to 2001 convinced him Grafton could carry out an upgrade of this magnitude to its CBD.
"It might also mean we can get rid of the steel wires down the middle of Block 3," he said.