With more than sixty attendees gathered for the Update on January 21, the stage was set for an interesting meeting. People were there for information and that’s exactly what was delivered from a range of speakers.
Tony Gant from Transport NSW opened proceedings and informed those gathered that traffic would be flowing on the bypass by Easter weather permitting (this drew a wry laugh from the audience – traffic will be on the bypass by Easter). The meeting was informed that noise-effected properties (by the modelling) will be treated and if more treatment is needed it will be provided once the bypass is operational. Chamber would encourage Council and Transport NSW to keep talking about this matter.
With no further questions on the presentation regarding the bypass itself, several questions were then asked about the Kelly St handover, post the opening of the bypass.
Tony informed the gathering that Transport NSW and UHSC were in dialogue about the treatment of Kelly Street once the bypass opened. This could take between 6-12 months (or more) before a final decision is made. Upper Hunter Shire Mayor Wayne Bedggood took the opportunity to let those gathered know that work could not commence on the revitalisation until this decision was made. Until then, the Mayor said, very little practical “on-ground” work could take place.
The point was made that Council wanted the street “fit for purpose” before accepting it from Transport NSW, otherwise the burden of maintaining the street would fall on the ratepayers of the Upper Hunter. Chamber are supportive of that approach but will continue to monitor the situation and seek updates on a regular basis.
Whilst all of us in Chamber appreciate this dilemma, we believe there are several things Council can do in the interim. Firstly, the completion of Farrams Lane would be important before the revitalisation commences. This would provide much-needed parking when the works on Kelly Street begin. Secondly, the refurbishment of the old sports store (133 Kelly Street) could also be undertaken independent of the revitalisation work.
Chamber intends to highlight these issues when we next meet with the Council.
The next speaker on the night was David Gatwood who highlighted the fact that several hundreds of millions of dollars was being spent (or planned) for the district. This included the bypass ($120M), but also encompassed the work at White Park, the Airport, Scone Saleyards, the pipeline from Scone to Murrurundi, the recently completed upgrade to Scone Golf Club, TAFE Connected Learning Centre, Civic Theatre, Campbells Corner and the like.
Cr James Burns and Alan Fletcher then informed the meeting about the progress on the planning for the revitalisation. Much of the work to date will require revisiting as a result of the final determination of the heights and drainage for Kelly Street. Prue Robertson spoke from the floor encouraging people to take an active role in the revitalisation.
The proposed new design for Kelly Street has more parking bays than present, plus Farrams Lane will allow longer vehicles easier parking and access to Kelly Street.
In relation to the revitalization concepts, engineers are currently looking at:
- CCTV Security
- Public Art
- Provision for other services
- Power for electric cars
- 133 Kelly St
- Public toilets (133 Kelly/Campbells Corner)
- Timing and Program of works
- Community Consultation
- what to do about the Traffic Lights after the bypass opens – will they still be required?
As a result of the meeting, a number of points for further discussion arose. These included:
- A Revitalisation Timetable to be produced – if the road was handed over at the end of June 2020, are we shovel ready? What will be the first steps?
- Confirmation of funding that has been promised. Can Chamber play a role in getting confirmation and assisting with further funding applications?
- Signage Plan on the website so people can see what signage will be displayed leading up to and whilst on the bypass. This will allow business and the Council to assess if further signage was required and where that signage might best be located to draw people off the bypass.
- What is the criteria for having destination signage installed by RMS needs clarification?
- Horse Capital Signage – if we are truly the Horse Capital of Australia, where is the signage to market that fact to passing traffic?
- Consideration of stormwater harvesting from Kelly Street in the revitalisation plans.
- Will Tourist Buses be able to manoeuvre in Kelly St in a revitalised set-up?
- What is the plan for the town once the bypass opens and the revitalisation works begin?
At the close of the meeting, a number of people (14) provided their names as being interested in getting involved in a working group. The idea of the working group would be to thrash out some ideas to attract people off the bypass in the time between the bypass opening and the revitalisation commencing.