Broadway decline blamed on meters

As an investigation is launched into how to reverse the declining fortunes of Palmerston North's Broadway Ave, Manawatu Standard readers have come up with a few ideas.

Broadway Ave has been leaching retailers consistently since Farmers moved off the street in 2010 into The Plaza.

In the past four years, about 17 businesses have vacated the street, and development company Valour Ideal, which owns buildings in Broadway, recently put its property portfolio up for sale.

Among them are homeware store Abode and confectionery store Munchkins, which have held "end-of-lease" sales of late, and GQ clothing store, which has been in the process of closing down for months, will finally close its doors this week.

Munchkins will consolidate its business into a stall at The Plaza, where foot traffic is considerably higher.

In response to the continued retail exodus, the Manawatu Chamber of Commerce has launched About The Square, a project that will collate ideas from retailers, building owners, shoppers and the Palmerston North City Council on how to reverse the trend.

In text comments sent in by Manawatu Standard readers, the finger is firmly pointed at the city council's sensored parking meters.

The sensor system alerts parking wardens, wherever they may be, to overstayers in particular spaces, and people have had a difficult time coming to grips with the process of using them.

The controversial system has come under fire since it was implemented, and a working party was set up last year to address complaints from the public.

"Broadway's decline is a direct result of the pig-headed attitude of the PNCC parking regime," says one reader. "If those in control do what everyone has asked them to do so many times, then we may see life return.

"Life in Broadway died thanks to the council and their parking meters. Now they want to spend more money to fix their problem! Three suggestions: remove meters, remove trees and remove beggars."

Others suggest bringing a bit of The Plaza to Broadway, and implementing a period of free parking.

"Come on mayor and councillors, how about treating Broadway customers with 1hr free parking strictly enforced to compete with Plaza," says Ann.

Taking the concept of changing parking on the street even further, others advocate removing them altogether and turning the street into a pedestrian mall like Wellington's Cuba Mall.

"Broadway is an easy fix. Turn it into pedestrian mall - a row of column piles, an arched roof overlapping existing verandas, similar to UCOL. Cheap fix, just do it."

Or, a one-way street.

"A good idea for Broadway would be to design it like a drive-through winding mall like Napier has. Less motor traffic, more foot traffic."

Manawatu Standard