UPDATE: After CityNews’ story was published, the ACT government backtracked on their decision and Chief Minister Katy Gallagher has confirmed the grass will be reinstated, as funded by the committee. “The next step will be to reach agreement over how the works should proceed, including the ongoing costs of maintenance and ensuring public safety,” says Ms Gallagher in her letter.
A LETTER from a Kingston traders committee sent in August offering to re-turf Green Square was “mislaid” by the ACT government.
A “CityNews” inquiry to Chief Minister Katy Gallagher’s office revealed the letter had been “mislaid but is now with the Chief Minister being considered”.
In its letter, the committee had offered to fund the cost of reinstating grass to the square and adding hydra cell to the soil to help maintain water retention, after Territory and Municipal Services replaced it with drought-tolerant, native shrubs in 2010.
In July, “CityNews” reported on a petition by the committee requesting the shrubs be replaced with grass as business in the area was steadily declining.
At the time, the Government’s response was that enough money had been spent on the area, and that grass was difficult to maintain in Green Square due to its “high pedestrian traffic”.
Committee spokesperson and owner of Kingston’s Radinger Jewellers, Gabi Radinger, says she feels like Green Square is a “forgotten area.”
“The paving is beautiful, we’re happy with the infrastructure, but we feel that if the shrubs could be replaced with grass again, it would bring the people back, and give it a real community feel,” she says.
“The way it is now is not inviting, it’s ugly, the plants look aggressive, kids run through them and slash their legs because the plants themselves are actually really sharp.”
Recently the committee of more than 30 traders has been backed by Liberal member for Molonglo Steve Doszpot in an effort to ramp up its campaign to restore the grass.
Mr Doszpot says the campaign to restore the grass is a “no-brainer”.
“It used to be such a nice area, and during these school holidays, the change was really evident – people used to come here with their families, but there’s a real absence of that now and the shopkeepers cater for the families, so they’re missing business,” he says.
“The area itself isn’t being maintained, there’s cigarette butts and rubbish everywhere. Children can’t play in the grass with all the rubbish and if they did, they would be hidden behind the shrubs anyway as they’re so high and overgrown.
“We fought for the grass in Manuka, and it’s made a huge difference. That’s easily maintained and has crowds of people coming through, why can’t Kingston be the same?”