More than 100 Highlanders raised their concerns about the proposed upgrade to Station Street at a public meeting on Wednesday night.
The proposed upgrade includes road realignments, changes to parking and streetscape improvements.
The public meeting was just one of the many opportunities provided for the community to learn about the project and share their thoughts with councillors.
Council’s manager for project delivery Bob Lewis made a presentation about the upgrade and said the idea was to improve traffic flow through the town centre.
“Bong Bong Street doesn’t serve the traffic function that it should,” he said.
Mr Lewis highlighted the upgrade would also improve safety for traffic and pedestrians along with the streetscape, paving and curb and guttering.
The main concerns raised by the public were the loss of vegetation, parking and safety.
Mr Lewis confirmed that there would be a loss of 6-12 spaces. However council has purchased land on Wattle Lane which is expected to provide more than 40 car parking spaces, as well as parking adjacent to Memorial Park and between Boolwey and Bowral streets.
Under the upgrade, the roundabout at Boolwey Street will become traffic lights and some of the parking will also be moved to Kirkham Road.
Residents were also keen to find out if the $7.5 million funding from the state government could be used to complete Stage 2 before Stage 1.
Bowral resident Peter Edwards raised concerns over the impact the upgrade would have on the environment.
“The pin oaks and camellias form a significant element at the northern entrance to the Bowral business centre,” he said.
“The community does not want or need these streetscape elements to be destroyed.”
However, Mr Lewis said the council had tried to minimise the effect on the pin oaks.
“We’ve also tried to look at the camellias in front of the station and look at how we can deal with those.”
The plan to maintain as many pink oaks as possible was one mayor Ken Halstead also voiced his support for later in the meeting.
The transport interchange was an issue of concern for residents, with many believing congestion outside the train station would increase with the upgrade.
Mr Lewis said the proposed bus bay north of the station would cater for two to three buses.
Business owners at the meeting also voiced their concerns about the impact the upgrade would have on businesses on Station Street during construction, and wondered if they would be compensated for loss of trade by council.
Questions were also raised about whether there was a long term strategy for the project.
Mr Lewis confirmed there was not a definite strategy in place.
“There is not a definite long term strategy. The 2012 strategy will be updated now that we have done the parking studies.”
Mr Edwards argued the whole project was not an upgrade, but rather a new road.
“What is needed is a true upgrade of Station Street on its present alignment, so that we get a serviceable road that may one day be considered as the main road around Bowral,” he said.
Highlands Matters public officer Alan Olsen agreed that upgrade funds could be used in a better way.
“There is a groundswell of opinion against a lot of the details of this proposed upgrade
“Perhaps the most positive suggestion to come out of it was the government grant [could] be applied to the stage that goes from Harris Farm to Links Road, that might be a much better use of the funds.”
While there was a lot of negative feedback one Bowral woman who has lived in the town for more than 50 years voiced her support for the project at the meeting.
“Everyone is against the upgrade but what is the alternative?” she said.
Seven of the nine Wingecarribee councillors were in attendance at the public meeting, Clrs Whipper and McLaughlin were apologies.
Council confirmed that a summary of all submissions plus the overview of questions asked at the public meeting will be provided to councillors before they make any further decisions about the design.
Questions will be reviewed and a summary including answers will be made public onwww.yoursaywingecarribee.com.au by Wednesday, September 27.
The detailed design plans and fact sheets will remain on display in the Moss Vale Civic Centre and at Bowral Library until October 3 when the submission period will conclude.