THOSE planter boxes in Burnett St, New Norfolk, have been the talk of the town (and beyond) for nearly 18 months now. Other than one anonymous comment on this blog, I have not heard one person express their satisfaction with the Burnett St makeover. This is not an invitation for a flurry of anonymous posts supporting the planter boxes. If you do support them and want the street left as it is, I'll gladly report this to the next council meeting as your elected representative - provided you email your remarks to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, including your actual name and address for verification on the Electoral Roll. Anonymous posts to my blog will not be considered.
The following is the text of my written report to last week's council meeting:
The purpose of this report is to obtain approval from Council for an investigation into the feasibility of relocating and replacing the Burnett Street planter boxes during the forthcoming Burnett St resurfacing works.
In late August and early September 2008, Council implemented the Burnett Street component of the “Main Street Makeover Project” managed by Valley Vision. This saw the construction of cement plinths at intervals along the length of the street and the subsequent installation of large square planter boxes, into which were planted ornamental pear trees.
The intent of the project was to beautify the street by a continuation of the existing tree-lined The Avenue. Unforeseen issues with the project have turned an apparently large section of the community against the planter boxes.
These issues have included:
• Reduced sight-lines for turning/entering vehicles
• Traffic hazards
• Damage to vehicles and the boxes themselves
• Pedestrian safety due to the height of the boxes
• Patches in the road where planter boxes have been removed
• Damage to the roadway due to traffic being shifted onto the side surfaces which had been constructed for parking (not heavy traffic)
• Twice-daily watering required due to the boxes having a solid foundation.
The planter boxes were a major issue during the recent council election campaign, with frequent calls for their removal. The main issue of concern appears to have been the placement of the boxes (and their large stature) into the middle of the road rather than at the edges of the carriageway.
I suggest the following for councillors’ consideration:
That the appropriate council staff investigate:
• the incorporating of the relocation and replacement of the planter boxes into the forthcoming resurfacing of Burnett St.
• the removal and storage of the planter boxes for re-use.
• The replanting of the trees into circular pots (such as an up-ended concrete pipe of suitable diameter).
• The installation of the circular pots in the ground if it can be shown this will not result in future root-damage to the road surface.
• The installation of the circular pots at the edge of the road, straddling the footpath and the carriageway.
• The cost of the above proposals.
• The total number of trees available for planting/replanting.
• The impact of this proposal on the grant funds originally received for the project.
There merit in the original proposal to beautify the streetscape in Burnett Street and there is much to be gained from modifying the work already done, rather than disposing of it altogether or maintaining its current unpopular configuration.
If you would like to read what other councillors had to say about this idea, head over to the New Norfolk News.