The last-minute two-month extension of a street closure has raised the ire of a group of Clyde retailers.
The Clyde Heritage precinct has been undergoing upgrades since 2021 to create more shared public spaces and improve accessibility, something that was consulted on through the Central Otago District Council’s (CODC) 10-Year Plan.
The project started by opening up the walkway from Matau St to Miners Lane and extending Miners Lane to create a one-way through road.
Last year a central community space was completed in Lodge Lane.
The next step, a similar makeover on Holloway and Sunderland Sts, saw Holloway St closed off in April.
That work was expected to be completed on Friday last week, however retailers were advised via email that day the work was being extended.
The email, from CODC project manager Dan Kirkman said ‘‘multiple unexpected water faults’’ had resulted in the project’s timeline increasing.
Rex Eade, who with wife Melanie, owns Eade Gallery, said the email was the first ‘‘official’’ word he had received that work was running behind.
A meeting two weeks ago between retailers and council indicated everything was on time and a possible extension was not mentioned, Mr Eade said.
‘‘Some people said to me, and I had heard this from the other retailers, that they had had issues they weren’t expecting. At the end of the day things happen and I understand that — it’s just the communication.
‘‘To be fair to the council, we had plenty of notice [about the project starting] and in fact they asked us what was the best time of the year to do it and we said do it over winter because it’s quiet.’’
‘‘Three hours’ notice [for a two-month extension] — how do you plan for that?’’
It was hard to know the full impact the closure had on business, Mr Eade said.
‘‘It’s really hard to [know the impact on business] because the weather’s been pretty bad. We haven’t had a normal year for a number of years because of Covid, so we really don’t have anything to base it onexcept that last month was our third worst month ever and that’s in eight years.’’
Down the road, Lily & Esther owner Anna McRitchie said she appreciated the work needed to be done but was unhappy with the lack of communication about the last-minute extension.
‘‘It’s a solid concern how I’m going to pay for stock or rent. Two months is acceptable, four months is a worry,’’ she said.
Council project manager Dan Kirkman said the work had two components: below and above ground.
The underground work — replacing water pipes and installing a new stormwater system — was finished and the above ground works — marked parking spaces, a new raised pedestrian crossing and reinstalling the old brick footpath — would be completed by the end of August.
Excavation under Holloway St had revealed that additional pipes and valves were necessary to reduce future water disruptions, however, it increased the project timeline, Mr Kirkman said.
‘‘In the process, the crew found old power ducts and redundant asbestos concrete pipes that took time to remove safely. Ground compaction where the new pipes connected with the older pipes resulted in leaks that needed to be repaired and unrelated water leaks within the vicinity also slowed progress.
‘‘While slowing the project down, this did highlight the importance of large-scale upgrades to the critical town centre water pipes.’’
Council was unaware the underground work was running two weeks behind until June 27, and ‘‘regrets it did not know this sooner’’.
The contractors noted the remaining above ground work would only take six weeks and calculated it would be quicker and ‘‘less disruptive’’ to complete the work while cordons were still in place and excavated channels open.
‘‘Hence doing Holloway St all in one go. This had not been previously considered because until this timeline update it was still considered feasible and hence preferable to complete Sunderland St all in one go. As difficult as pushing on now is for the businesses, it is the option with the least net impact,’’ he said.
Following the timeline update council visited retailers on June 28 to advise, however, some were closed due to winter operating hours.
The council regretted not being able to update all the businesses sooner, Mr Kirkman said.
While the delays were not ideal, the work would benefit the affected retailers in the future.
‘‘The hard landscaping and streetscape beautification will bring benefits to locals, visitors and businesses and will provide positive impacts to the business community, he said.
‘‘It is also important to remember that the businesses temporarily and negatively impacted by these ratepayer-funded works are the same businesses that will benefit positively from the multimilliondollar upgrade that will beautify their street frontage for the long term.’’