TEMPORARY barricades, or parklets, were to be removed from outdoor stores on Nepean Highway in Rosebud on April 6, but an “internal delay” at the Department of Transportation forced them to stay longer.
The barriers, between Fourth and Fifth Avenue, have caused friction between the Rosebud Chamber of Commerce and Mornington Peninsula Shire to such an extent that the chamber was considering legal action last week.
House Speaker Phil Cvetovac said despite calls to remove them by traders whose businesses were negatively affected, the barriers remained in place with no end date in sight. (“Concerns about trade barriers” The news 20/4/21).
“I am more than furious at the arrogance of the way this has all been handled,” Cvetovac said in an email to The news.
“The fact of controlling small premises by disconnected ‘political’ decision-makers incens me endlessly. People who have never run a business – who make business decisions – are incompetence personified. “
But acting county manager Jessica Wingad said last week: “We expected approval to be granted for this job in a few days, but unfortunately it took three weeks.
“We have finally received approval … and the parklet will be removed on the morning of Wednesday April 28.”
Ms Wingad said the county’s outdoor dining and trading program has played a crucial role in allowing businesses in the county to maximize their commerce during the peak period between January and Easter.
“The program has been so well received that the majority of merchants have requested that their parklets be extended until June and wish to see them installed again next summer,” she said. “In a small number of cases, tough decisions have had to be made in trying to balance the competing needs of traders. In the case of the park between the fourth and fifth avenues, five of the six traders are hotel companies and four have benefited from the park.
“We are extremely keen to work with the remaining trader [presumably Rosebud Flowers] to help offset any perceived impact and [have] offered material support to create an attractive outdoor commercial space for the company.
“We also offered help to promote and grow the business.”
Mr Cvetovac’s email to the traders contained a plea from Penelope Caravias, owner of Rosebud Flowers: “Please, please, could we have a response” on when the parklets will be deleted? she asked.
“It’s so totally unfair and an injustice, especially when the three [outside] Subway, Rosebud Flowers and Hungry Bills have not been used at all and our businesses are desperate to be able to get our customers back.
“Broken promises have been made for over seven months now. Please.”
Mr Cvetovac said he urged the council in December to consult with traders before any trade initiatives are proposed or implemented.
He said his research found 87% of traders objected to parklets saying they were potentially dangerous, eye injuries, meant loss of parking and passing commerce could be compromised. They also required additional cleaning, personnel and maintenance, and were just another “variable” that had to be managed.
Rosebud Flowers is desperate to ease the uncertainty ahead of the traditional Mother’s Day big sales on Sunday, May 9.
Cr Antonella Celi said she thought the parklets “worked well” and that most traders supported them. “The voices of all traders must be heard so that businesses can come out of COVID, and while the number of customers is capped for domestic patronage,” she said. “Businesses like The Milbri and Spitfire Restaurant needed our support and the florist is also doing business online. There are plenty of parking spaces, especially in the middle strip of the center. It would be different if there was no parking. “
First published in Southern Peninsula News – April 27, 2021