Milton makeover grows

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RICHARD.DAVISON@nullalliedpress.co.nz

OFFICIALS say Milton has a ‘‘once in a generation’’ opportunity to transform itself
— albeit at a cost.

The Clutha District Council released its long-term plan for 2021-31 last week, a key element of which was a revised set of proposals for the long-planned Milton Main Street Upgrade.

An initial project budget of $2 million, proposed in 2018, will now have to increase by up to $3 million if original ambitions are to be realised.

Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan said the potential cost blowout had been caused by unforeseen issues under the original budget, including replacement of water pipes and higher›than›expected costs relating to routing powerlines underground.

The new document presents three options to ratepayers, including extending planned improvements from Abercrombie St to Mill St, for a revised total of $5 million.

Retaining the budget at $2 million would allow an upgrade to the Stewart St Reserve area only, where the town’s public toilets will soon be replaced by new ‘‘destination’’ toilets.

A compromise option allows for spending $3.75 million in total, to extend upgrades through a section of Milton’s central business district.

Mr Cadogan said the options presented a ‘‘defining question’’ to Milton residents, regarding the future they saw in prospect for their town.

‘‘The council believes Milton has one of the brightest and most prosperous futures in prospect for the whole district, given imminent commercial and other opportunities that offer huge potential for transformation.

‘‘So to what extent does Milton want to maximise this one-off, generational opportunity to reshape itself?’’

Although the document lists the base $2 million project as the council’s ‘‘preferred option’’, Mr Cadogan said that was a reflection of fiscal responsibility only.

‘‘The council faces unprecedented financial challenges during the coming decade covered by this long-term plan, and we’re extremely conscious of the pressure many ratepayers face,’’ Mr Cadogan said.

‘‘That said, we’re also conscious we could be limiting Milton in realising its full potential with the current budget, so this is why we’re revisiting the question of the extent of the upgrade, and listening to residents about which way they want to go.’’

The increased budget would be covered by modest rates increases across the whole district, and targeted increases of up to $59.40 a year for main project beneficiaries for the most expensive project option.

The document says the extended options would be ‘‘an improvement on a scale we expect residents and visitors to be enjoying for years to come’’.

Project elements would include improvements to footpaths, pedestrian crossings, plantings and signage, and the routing of powerlines underground.
Submissions to the long› term plan close on April 30.