Bega Valley Shire Council has committed to spend $1 million to improve the look of the central areas in Merimbula through landscaping and is asking residents to take part in an online survey or write to council with their ideas.
Group manager for planning and environment, Andrew Woodley said: “People wishing to tell us what they want can visit the project website where they can access a survey, or alternatively a simple registration process will allow people to provide feedback on the information presented.
“On top of this we’ll be taking our consultation to the community with public displays, listening posts, workshops and face-to-face discussions where we’ll be asking people what they want for their town centres.
“This is expected to lead to more detailed plans being put on exhibition by the end of the financial year,” Mr Woodley said.
Landscape architects, Spiire Australia has been contracted to prepare landscape master plans for the towns of Merimbula, Bega, Bermagui, and Eden.
Mr Woodley said: “Council recognises the importance of reinvigorating the town centres through landscaping the public areas.”
He said that the look and feel of Merimbula needed to be lifted.
"Council officers and Spiire undertook preliminary site investigations in each town and met with community representatives to be informed and discuss the current needs for each town centre,” Mr Woodley said.
Council has held discussions with the Merimbula Chamber of Commerce, the Merimbula Special Events Committee and tourism organisations.
Council has identified the highest priority area to be Market Street and a short distance into Beach Street and Merimbula Drive.
In its brief to Spiire, council said that the landscaping project should help reinvigorate the CBDs but with an emphasis on people rather than cars or trucks.
The brief also suggests that improved landscaping may “stimulate investment from the private sector in improving building stock and shop fronts”.
Council told Spiire: “The design should embrace Merimbula’s natural assets and provide strong physical and visual links between the CBD and lake. The design will need to consider the forthcoming traffic bypass of the CBD and potential redevelopment of prominent council owned commercial precincts.”
Acting general manager, Leanne Barnes said that council wanted to have the traffic plan and landscaping plans on show together.
Mr Woodley said: “The plan will be fully inclusive, ensuring that everyone, including people with mobility restrictions, can adequately access the town's facilities.
"These include improvements to pavements for providing better access to shops and businesses; consideration of streetscape and landscape plantings; improvements to pedestrian and cyclist safety, whilst accommodating vehicles; investigating environmental sustainability measures; and ensuring that any changes to existing infrastructure are able to be maintained and managed by the shire.”
Council and Spiire invite all members of the community participate in the project. Everyone is encouraged to visit the project website: www.spiire.com.au/projects/begavalley, register your details and complete the online survey. The surveys close Monday, November 18, 2013.
Mr Woodley said: “The nature of public consultations means that not everybody will get what they want, but we’ll be doing all we can to identify common desires representative of the community as a whole.”