Park Street Closed for Cultural Festival
The Times-Age asked for comment after a retailer raised concern about the impact (on business and parking) of closing Park Street on Saturday 9 September for the Cultural Festival. The following response was provided from Manager Community Facilities and Activities, Corin Haines:
The Cultural Festival was the culmination of Welcoming Week in Masterton, aimed at showing newcomers to our community, from other parts of New Zealand and other countries, that we value what they add to the District.
We have been delighted with the response to the first festival, and it now seems likely the elected members of the Council will support it becoming an annual event. As the festival was a free event we do not have attendance numbers but at any one time there were probably a couple of hundred people at least enjoying performances and food. Some of the feedback we received was about the need for more seating.
We are sorry some retailers were disappointed about the event, and holding it in Park Street. We feel the festival could have been an opportunity for retailers of all kinds to reach out to people who may not have been aware of what is offered on Queen Street.
Retailers in the vicinity of Park Street were visited by council staff before the event and it was made clear that access for delivery vehicles would be maintained. No concerns were raised at that time.
Park Street was chosen as the location for a number of reasons. Firstly, the intention was to create a ‘street party’ feel to the event, putting it very much in the centre of our community. From anecdotal feedback received, this was a big part of the event’s success – it was not tucked away somewhere further away from the centre of town.
In any case, when planning for the event began, Masterton was still feeling the effects of a very wet winter, with parks and recreation areas repeatedly closed due to ground conditions. It would not have been prudent to make the Cultural Festival contingent on the possibility of ground conditions improving.
We are always mindful of the effect of street closures on businesses and evaluate this against the benefits to the community of holding such events. While we are comfortable on this occasion we got the balance right, we are happy to consider feedback from retailers in plans for future events of this kind, and are always open to hearing from this important group in our community.
We appreciate that parking is a key consideration for retailers, noting that parks are not allocated to specific retail outlets. There was no change to parking enforcement arrangements on Saturday.