Perennial problem of parking

June 07, 2018

‘‘How’s the all-day, no-charge, Maude-Nixon-Edward car park going?’’ I asked a businessman from nearby in Shepparton central business district recently. His face told the story before he carefully chose his response.

‘‘Good for the CBD workers generally that used to walk in from Maude, Orr and Corio north, together with the employers and workers that formerly meter-fed all day, but no good whatsoever for my customers, especially lugging heavy and cumbersome purchases back to their cars,’’ he replied.

‘‘Sure, that park was underused, but if it had stayed as metered with the limit out to, say, three or even four hours for the same money, it would have satisfied a need for some preferred longer customer-stays and eased customer parking congestion in the CBD heart — more parking income, too,’’ he said.

Getting back to the car, I thought that the affected trader summed up free, no time-limited, one-short-block to the Mall parking pretty well — a big benefit to 70-odd CBD workers, virtually zilch advantage to shopping customers, so overall a detriment to trade.

Forgot to mention, if you’re a shopper you can get one of these all-day no-charge parking bays — as long as you get there before 8am. They’re all gone by 8.15am. An accurate assessment mentioned in a News letter last week, from a Corio St business owner.

Seemed like a good idea at the time, eh? Time for a review?

●Don’t we love parking punch-ups? That description is only meant to be a colloquialism for an animated discussion — definitely not a condoning of verbal harassment of authorised parking officers, going about their job of supervising orderly, regulated, safe and lawful vehicle parking.

Good healthy civilised debate about parking is welcome — at the dinner table, a barbecue, the pub, in the local press, on Facebook and even down at the council counter, but the reported hoo-ha by some animated illegal-parking Saturday juniors’ parents, venting their spleens, in front of some small fry, towards council inspectors, was puerile, uncouth and decidedly un-called for.

What was all that recent churlish football (soccer) McEwen Reserve ignorance about anyway? Were a few egocentric miscreant motorists sprung illegally parking — you know the ‘‘rules were made for other people, not for me’’ types?

Subsequent parental volatility reportedly was directed at the hapless parking inspectors? A great example for the budding youngster Maradonas and Peles of Greater Shepparton I must say — introduces them early to porcine adult behaviour.

There are about 900 car parking places at the McEwen Reserve area. Sometimes inconvenient, but a couple of hundred metres on the hoof will hurt very few people.

Nearly a couple of million has already been spent on parking provision — any more means less for projects like a stadium upgrade.

Parking signage is good. Those that park illegally deserve little sympathy, especially as nearby ‘overflow’ parking has now been added to the stock. The weekend Victorian Country Junior Football Championships will test the parking situation — but if you don’t have a parking problem then you probably, in a strange way, haven’t had as many visitors as you would like.

A funny thing many of us have discovered; if you obey traffic ordinances you don’t get pinged. Simple really.

●We haven’t given the Maude Street Mall much of a burl lately, have we, and it’s not far off closing time to ‘‘have your say’’ on the four design options out for public comment — closing on June 30, in about three weeks’ time.

Maybe I mix with the wrong crowd (something my Mum constantly warned me about in the 1950s), but, not wanting to sound too negative, the impression I get is that many folk favour the non-promoted ‘Option No. Five’ — various forms of ‘‘do nothing’’.

Judging from the majority of the small sample who’ve commented, none of them spring chickens, they seem to be concerned about three main aspects, cost, loss of beautiful trees, combined with serious doubts about any change being a panacea for the Mall, particularly, and more importantly, the CBD generally.

It’s hard to disagree. There are other less concerns such as traffic impact, construction disruption, retailing trends, online prices and procurement, space and attraction, for and of, more big anchor outlets — absolutely no chance or room for a supermarket.

Then there’s the issue of CBD internal project competition for council dollars such as decommissioning Wyndham (Sobroan to Knight) as the Goulburn Valley Hwy, in favour of Welsford, and turning Wyndham into a ‘green’ single-lane, slow-trafficked, angle-parking busy commercial area — more attractive but just as busy as it was in the ’60s. There’s also unfinished works in Maude south.

If the Mall doesn’t get up for major works, it should at least receive allocation of a set annual commitment, say $250000, for titivation and continuing beautification.

Agree or disagree — it’s your call. Do have your say — more information on council’s website.

Shepparton’s John Gray has vast experience in local government, urban water reform and natural resource management.

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