Community meeting space taking shape in Waimate
They say the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, unless that is, you are standing on Waimate’s Queen Street.
That’s because of the new public meeting space that has been created, a collaborative approach and community initiative between Waimate District Council, Rooney Earthmoving Limited and other adjoining landowners. The project, which is located between the Waimate Police Station and the former Cameron’s building (now Style 358), will feature a range of removable elements such as seating, gardens, shrubs and LED lighting.
Since the demolition of the vacant buildings in August this year, keen-eyed onlookers will have already seen the recently planted grass seed take hold in the last few weeks, with development taking shape and plans for the space coming to fruition. The meeting space has used a range of materials and created an opportunity to repurpose former streetlights and a surplus of Council’s trees, flowers and grass seed. The meeting space also features seating made from the former wooden beams recovered during the building’s demolition phase, repurposed by a local joiner at no charge.
In addition, Council has purchased a drinking fountain ($1,207) and extended the existing hanging basket watering system ($431.15) to help reduce the time staff would normally be required on site. This system is operated remotely and is both set and monitored by Council’s parks and reserves team.
Commenting on the initiative, Waimate District Mayor Craig Rowley says Council are pleased with the progress made, pointing out it was ‘time for a facelift’.
“Investments in new retail outlets are major contributors to the resilience of our district, but unfortunately some of these vacant shops along Queen Street do not give visitors the right impression of our vibrant town,” Mayor Rowley said.
“Adding a community meeting space not only removes the empty and unattractive retail shops, it provides a ready-made clientele for both the surrounding retail tenants and possible new sponsors, and it immediately improves the attractiveness of the main street to passing visitors.”
The meeting space would also incorporate the installation of an attractive fence along the rear of the open space, with the majority of all elements able to be removed and redistributed across the district once the land is required for the construction of new retail outlets.
As part of the initiative, Council has invested $60,000 from the Economic Development Unit, utilising funds from both the sale of the Gorge Road property and the Alpine Energy dividend.
While it is envisaged the space will remain available and open to the public for at least three years, the decision to rebuild lies directly with the landowner.
“If our investment attracts new retailers and the Rooney Group need the space back to construct new shops, then our interim investment would still have been worth every penny,” Mayor Rowley said.
“The space looks fantastic and is a great addition to our main street.”
The community meeting space is expected to be open later this month (November).