Main street upgrade scaled back to near budget

Bryan Cadogan
Bryan Cadogan
A key South Otago civic enhancement project will be scaled down to remain close to budget.

The Clutha District Council voted to target a previously determined total budget of $5million for the Milton Main Street Upgrade project during the second day of occasionally heated long-term plan deliberations in Balclutha yesterday.

A report from council senior transportation asset manager Christian Bopp gave councillors five cost options for continuing the project, ranging from $500,000 to $4.5million.

Work to date has left a remaining budget of $2.05m million for the work, and councillors voted to allow up to $2.25m.

Only the $4.5m option would have allowed the work to be completed to the original plans, which would include landscaping the Gray St destination toilet plaza, and street safety and aesthetic enhancements between Arthur St and Toko Trailers on State Highway 1.

The reduced budget means work is likely to be limited to a reduced programme of plaza landscaping, and reduced street enhancement work around the Gray St intersection only.

Clutha District Mayor Bryan Cadogan said Milton people might be disappointed by the scaled-down project.

"There are so many hopes and so much potential for Milton. I don’t want to in any way curb that potential, but I think it’s time for Milton to decide whether it believes in itself. I’ve been overwhelmed by people coming to me and saying they believe in Milton and want to see it go ahead," he said.

"It worries me that we started with a dream, and we ended up with a plaza, basically. Milton is at the start of its projects, and it doesn’t sit well with me that we’re not aspiring to something a wee bit more than a plaza after all this time."

The council is also contributing to a new $17.6m swimming pool/library complex for the town.

An increased budget of up to $20.4m for that project — which will undergo public consultation before confirmation — was also discussed during yesterday’s meeting.

Several councillors spoke in support of the reduced main street project budget.

Altering the budget significantly would require the council to undergo further public consultation, delaying the project unnecessarily, Cr Alison Ludemann said

"Going back to consultation will mean another two years before anything gets done. How many times can we consult on Milton Main Street?" she said.

Cr Gaynor Finch agreed: "We’ve looked at options so many times through consultation. We’ve got to try to get Milton to move on, particularly with all the cyclists coming through. Some of the submissions say, ‘How shabby Milton is and what can we do about it? It’s so dead — it looks terrible.’ It’s time for change."

The reduced budget was passed by 11 votes to three.