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A petition is planned over the closure of Thames’ Mary St - used to create ‘The Vibe’. Photo: SUPPLIED

Mary St closure sparks petition

Two friends have “run out of patience” when it comes to the closure of Mary St.
The Thames street used to connect shoppers in Pollen St to travellers in Queen St and Goldfields Mall through the CBD’s only roundabout.
However, in 2020, Thames-Coromandel District Council closed the high-traffic thoroughfare to create The Vibe – an open space with festoon lighting, tables, and garden planters that has just won a national award.
The friends say the road closure cuts off access between the town’s eastern and western sides, and they have plans to launch a petition opposing it.
“Everyone I have asked does not like it. They don’t like Mary St being closed,” petition spokesperson Sheryl McConnell said.
“The roundabout was the perfect solution for people living on the east of Thames, coming across and wanting to go anywhere on the western side. They could always go down Mary St and use the roundabout to get safely across.
“Now, there is always traffic coming one way or the other.”
Tuesday marked one year since construction on The Vibe began, and at the time, council said the temporary project could see Mary St closed to through traffic for up to two years.
But a vote of around 250 people back in 2021 saw 74 per cent of respondents preferred a partial closure design, while 26 per cent voted to keep Mary St open to one-way vehicle traffic.
There was no option to keep it as it was.
This was because the project was 90 per cent funded ($320,125) by the Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency through its Innovating Streets pilot. This was acknowledged by Thames Community Board chair Strat Peters when Mary St won the Best Street award in the Keep New Zealand Beautiful awards last week.
“It’s a recognition of the community ownership of the Create the Vibe space on Mary St, and we’d like to thank and acknowledge the Thames community for being so involved in shaping the public space, for painting the planters and making creative use of the space to hold events,” he said.
The pedestrian aspect of the area was created in March, 2021, and a council spokesperson told The Profile that council would like to see “how it works over a full year”, so the Thames community had a good chance to make use of the space in fair weather.
“The length of the trial public space and the Mary St closure will depend on how the space is used, its effects on traffic flow, and the feedback we receive on it… In the last few months we’ve had one complaint about Create the Vibe on Mary St, from somebody who doesn’t live in our district,” they said.
At the end of March, council will prepare a formal evaluation with input from experts, including its roading team and police.
With the planned petition in its early stages, council encouraged those opposing the Mary St closure to attend a community board meeting, and present any petitions or other documents during the public forum.
“Public feedback is one source of information to be considered as part of any decisions that are made, so any feedback, either positive or negative, is welcomed,” the spokesperson said.
Since March 2021, one person has attended the Thames Community Board public forum to speak about Create the Vibe.