Planter boxes on borrowed time

THE unpopular planter boxes in Burnett St may soon be a thing of the past. The Derwent Valley Council last week agreed to an investigation into various options for the removal of the boxes and the relocation of the trees planted in them.

Cr Damian Bester said the planter boxes had been a major issue during the recent council election campaign, with frequent calls for their removal. “The main issue of concern appears to have been the placement of the boxes (and their large stature) into the middle of the road rather than at the edges of the carriageway,” he told last week’s council meeting.

Councillors voted unanimously to endorse Cr Bester’s plan of action for the appropriate council staff to investigate:

  • The incorporating of the relocation and replacement of the planter boxes into the forthcoming resurfacing of Burnett St.
  • The removal and storage of the planter boxes for re-use elsewhere.
  • The replanting of the trees into circular pots (such as an up-ended concrete pipe of suitable diameter).
  • The installation of the circular pots in the ground if it can be shown this will not result in future root-damage to the road surface.
  • The installation of the circular pots at the edge of the road, straddling the footpath and the carriageway.
  • The total number of trees available for planting/replanting.
  • The cost of the above proposals.
  • The impact of this proposal on the grant funds originally received for the project.

Cr Bester said his main concern with the boxes was not their appearance, but their safety. In particular, the height of the planter boxes posed a danger to both motorists and pedestrians – children in particular.

Deputy Mayor Craig Farrell agreed with the proposal and said it was the correct process to follow. He said there had been some benefits associated with the installation of the boxes, in that they had caused people to drive more slowly and carefully. They also provided a refuge in the middle of the road, he said. “It has not been all bad, but it certainly could be improved upon,” Cr Farrell said. He said the experience had also highlighted a problem with parking in Burnett St and this must also be addressed.

Cr James Graham said Cr Bester had provided a “fantastic document to springboard from”. “A lot of the people who voted for me were in my earhole about Burnett St,” Cr Graham said. “This is not about undoing everything, it is not looking for blame.”

“Cr Bester has hit the nail on the head,” was the opinion of Cr Scott Shaw, who said three out of every four people he spoke to during the election campaign had wanted the planter boxes removed.

“I agree with all this,” Cr Barry Lathey said. “I struck the same thing when standing for election.” Cr Lathey bravely said he had to accept some of the blame, as he had voted in favour of the original proposal. “They are too big and have become a hazard. They have been successful in slowing traffic, but I don’t know how there hasn’t been a major accident,” he said. “The majority of the public don’t want them and it’s pretty plain why.”

Cr Narelle Molan said it had been hoped the planter boxes would make it easier for small cars to access places such as the council car park at Woolworths, but the opposite had occurred.

Cr Judy Bromfield endorsed Cr Molan’s view and recalled her own near-miss when a collision was narrowly avoided. “It is an eyesore,” Cr Bromfield said. “Three different committees looked at this and we still got it wrong,” she said.

Cr Bester thanked his colleagues for their support of his proposal and said he looked forward to the streetscape works being modified for the benefit of all users of the thoroughfare.

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