By Luke Voogt
Belmont traders have urged City Hall to revitalise High Street without losing parking, according to a local business representative.
About 40 traders vented their frustration at the “neglect” of the street at a council workshop on Monday night, store owner Vince Albanese said.
“There was a lot of anger in the room,” the former president of the Belmont Traders Association said.
“They feel like Belmont and the (nearby suburbs) have been ignored.”
Mr Albanese said council focus on developing central Geelong and the waterfront, and on “massive expansions” in Leopold and Waurn Ponds, had led it to neglect other parts of the city.
“We struggle to get $100 of bloody Christmas decorations.”
The workshop was the first of a series relating to a proposed bicycle network, which could see council remove car parks on High Street.
But City Hall officers proposed alternatives at the workshop, including one where cars and bikes would share the road, to retain on-street parking.
“We want to keep the car parks,“ Mr Albanese said.
“But to leave Belmont as it is, is not great either. Doing nothing is a missed opportunity.”
The officers also suggested separated bike lanes on the side of High Street or within a new median strip, and removing car parks on one or both sides of the road.
These options would see the removal of car parks outside Mr Alabanese’s store and nearby businesses, he said.
“If you lose that it’s just one more nail in your coffin.“
An independent study last year found on and off-street car parks in High Street were up to 66 per cent full on an average weekday and 49 per cent on the weekend.
“The empty ones are far car parks that the older people that shop around here probably couldn’t and wouldn’t use,” Mr Albanese said.
The same study found 25 per cent of people surveyed on High Street arrived by transport other than car.
The Geelong Principal Bike Network is part of a $4.7 million TAC-funded program, and aims to connect central Geelong to Waurn Ponds and Herne Hill.
Geelong Mayor Bruce Harwood was pleased to hear traders’ views.
“We will continue to work with them and others involved to find the solution that best meets the needs of all concerned,” Cr Harwood said.
The project also aimed to improve pedestrian and cycling access, and entice people to shop in High Street, a City Hall spokesperson added
“This is more than a cycling project, it’s about improving the amenity of High Street and boosting its appeal as a shopping and dining destination,” they said.
The spokesperson encouraged locals to fill out an online survey at www.geelongaustralia.com.au/BetterBikeConnections, which closes today.