There are mixed opinions in town at the moment regarding the current beautification works with some in favour and others not. Only time will tell how successful the project will be and whether public funds have been spent wisely.
I have written to Council with some of my concerns however it is probably too late to change many of them or the legacy they will leave. Overall the project is very fanciful for a small rural town with a major arterial highway running through the CBD.
I do wonder how heavy vehicle traffic will negotiate the narrow sections and tight corners at intersections. I have questioned Council regarding the removal of some of the ‘Pioneer’ Firewheel trees in Oak Street that were identified in the plan for retention and likewise the Qld rainforest tree outside the Gelato Bar. I have asked Council if they will be re-instating the iconic ‘Town Clock’ and when do they expect to undertake their proposed ‘Parking Study in order to establish a Parking Strategy which will address parking generally as well as parking for the disabled’. Just how many spaces we have lost will probably not be known until the project is finished.
I have extensively discussed the choice of street trees (shade and others), shrubs and general garden plants with many of them in my opinion not appropriate for our climate/environment or community culture. I believe the architect may have considered that Bellingen is a capital city with no consideration to the use of appropriate local native plants and an over-use of exotic plants some of which may become weeds.
I have also asked Council how and who will maintain the proposed landscaped areas as they have stated there is no budget for a gardener. My closing comment was why the Camphor Laurels in Maam Gaduying Park have been retained given the main reason for their removal in Church Street was their risk to infrastructure. I believe Council was blindfolded by the video clips forecasting the finished project where I will only have to wait 5 years for the trees to mature and cast shade in Church Street.
I did not discuss the various types of footpath materials or who will mow/maintain the lawn around the cenotaph. If the long term outcome of this project is successful I will be thrilled or am I dreaming?