Council sorry for not consulting – again


Queenstown’s council has apologised for deciding to scrap 15 CBD carparks without consulting businesses.

The carparks also have a temporary reprieve.

In an embarrassing climbdown, the council has agreed to temporarily reinstate Marine Parade’s carparks - earmarked to go in a $250,000 footpath extension - when work on Skyline Enterprises’ new building is finished.

Chamber of Commerce boss Ann Lockhart confirms it wasn’t consulted on the footpath work and it hit up the council on Tuesday.

“In future we would like to hear about decisions being made in advance,” she says.

“I don’t think there was anything mischievous about it but we’re definitely a little bit surprised not to be consulted, especially when there have been other carparks that have been removed and we’ve certainly given feedback to council previously.”

Lockhart - who’s just returned from a fact-finding trip to Aspen - says businesses want the council to clearly spell out its transport plan.

In a statement, council boss Mike Theelen says the council acknowledges it should have been “quicker to engage with stakeholders this time”.

The council made brief mention of the costly footpath work in a tacked-on item at last week’s council meeting.

On Monday, business forces held an urgent war council.

It was closed to the media, but Downtown QT board member Kim Wilkinson says most of the 23 people were “certainly against the proposal”.

He won’t comment before meetings of the downtown association and chamber boards, but confirms: “There’s strong feeling about it.”

Queenstown Mall, pedestrianised in the 1970s, was one of the first streets in the country to ban vehicles.

The carparks were offered as a trade-off to apprehensive retailers.

Warren Cooper was mayor at the time and is scathing of the council’s move to jettison the carparks.

“It’s absolutely flawed. In my experience it’s the antithesis of what is required in regards to transparency from the council.”

The council rushed out a statement yesterday to gazump Mountain Scene’s story.

In it, Theelen says councillors thought reinstating Marine Parade would be a lost opportunity.

“By doing some of the work while Skyline is completing the hotel development, we can transform Marine Parade into exactly that sort of environment earlier, at a lower cost and without having to first reinstate the street and footpath and then dig it up again later.”