Photo 1 Lower Beach St 1

Editorial

Biting off more than we can chew?

March 14 2022 by David Gibbs

Biting off more than we can chew?

It will be two years this week since international visitors were barred from entering the country and Queenstown’s worst economic period commenced. Realising the calamity that was likely to impact the economy, the Government was quick to announce financial support for shovel-ready infrastructure projects. Our council is to be congratulated for the way it successfully went after the windfall for its projects and jumped at the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to radically update the town’s infrastructure. Its vision for the future is underway.

Once it’s done, it’s going to be an incredible improvement. We are all in agreement there. However, ‘once it’s done’ is the issue. There are multiple projects on the go, with more that are just about to kick off, but the problem is that none of them are near completion, and many are running way behind schedule.

This time last year, we were all having a laugh about being renamed Conetown but judging by the comments thread on the QLDC social pages, the joke’s worn thin. When the fences went up last week blocking off Rees Street and the rest of Beach Street, the thread echoed my thoughts - can’t we just finish a couple of the projects that keep getting delayed? Park Street should be complete by now, as should Lower Beach Street. The shop owners and locals who live in that area were led to believe it was virtually completed by Christmas, but very little progress has been made since and access is again constricted.

If you haven’t been downtown recently, you’re in for a surprise. The western end of town, from the gondola to the mall, is almost completely fenced in with multiple projects in various stages of construction.

The preparatory work for the arterial bypass in Sydney and Melbourne streets is just the start of what’s going to be even more consequential disruption to that part of town, when Frankton Road shortly starts to be dug up as the bypass gets properly underway.
This new work is going to make downtown feel neither here nor there when it gets started and it going to last for years. The disruption is going to be hell for parents dropping kids to schools, for residents in the area as well as workers who must battle to get to work.

I’m not anti the development, I’m all for it and it will be amazing. I’m also not having a go at the staff on site, I’m speaking to the project planners who must be battling scant resources and who surely see that focusing on finishing a few projects, especially downtown to help desperate local businesses, prior to racing for the cones to start the next one, is just common sense.

David Gibbs
Queenstown Media Group

- David Gibbs