Views on whether the trial closure of Harbour St in the Victorian precinct has been a success are mixed.
Some business owners are positive about the prospect of future closure, but at least one is vehemently against it.
On February 15, the Waitaki District Council decided to go ahead with the trial closure of Harbour St to motorists at weekends from the hours of 10am to 4pm, from February 18 to May 1.
Pedestrian safety was cited as a primary concern in council documents addressing the proposed closure.
Now the trial has ended, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said the council would take time assess its next move.
“We’ve got to probably evaluate the result of the trial and need a discussion about what we are going to do for the next summer season.
“But, certainly, anecdotal evidence is that most businesses down there embraced the opportunity and have done well out of it. For some notable ones, it exceeded their expectations.
“We have to look at it and ask if we do do it next summer. Is it the same again, is it Saturday and Sunday, or is it other days of the week?”
Mr Kircher believed the trial went according to plan, but as it was a trial, some improvements he would have liked to have seen could not be carried out.
“One of the things we were going to do – which didn’t happen because it was a trial – was the use of different elements to help control activities in the area.
“So, there’s the opportunity to do that and we always intended to do more around signage .. whether it closes next season or not, the intention is to put retractable bollards in that would be used for different events as well.”
Presence on Harbour owner Dawn Brown, who supported the trial, believed it had gone “pretty well” and said she had received positive feedback on it.
She supported the idea of future closures and believed the street should be closed over the weekend during the summer months.
“I think we need to make it more inviting.”
The process the council used to plan and then execute the trial closure was criticised by some, notably Oasis Antiques owner Greg Waite, who organised a petition against the closure that was signed by more than a dozen Harbour St business owners.
At the time, he said the consultation process had not been robust enough and believed it was a “knee-jerk” reaction to perceived pedestrian safety concerns.
Mr Waite described the trial as a “fiasco”.
He said he “loves the street” and claimed his business had been negatively impacted during the trial period with the exception of rainy days when the street was opened.
“I still adhere to the opinion that one lost sale is one too many.
“When the road is closed it just goes dead, but on the wet days when they didn’t close the street, we had boomer days.”
While Mr Kircher said a lot needed to happen before any decisions were made, Mr Waite questioned “what statute Gary [Kircher] wanted to close the street under” if it was closed again, on either a temporary or permanent basis.
Mr Waite had “not ruled out” legal action against the council.
“We’re not ready for closure. We will be, but not yet.”