Featherston: Wishful thinking won't work

By Andrew Bonallack

4 comments
The space on Fitzherbert St, which is riverstone and weeds, is more than a toothless gap - it's basically a lost set of dentures.
The space on Fitzherbert St, which is riverstone and weeds, is more than a toothless gap - it's basically a lost set of dentures.

I AM intrigued, but not especially surprised, by the problems encountered in Featherston with the proposal to revitalise the central area.

The space on Fitzherbert St, which is riverstone and weeds, is more than a toothless gap - it's basically a lost set of dentures. Beautifying it as a town square is one solution, but it's a vast space and needs some buildings as well to make up the difference.

So, with Trust House donating the Bottle-O building as a home for the Featherston Menz Shed, I can understand the South Wairarapa District Council's reasoning in wanting it placed on the main street frontage. Men's Sheds are inherently fragile organisations, although Wairarapa's seem to be strong. But the idea is good; if the Featherston Menz Shed falls over as a body, at least the council have a plumbed-in, serviced and tidy-looking building on the main street. It's an example of the council seeing the bigger picture.

But, if you're thinking short term, and was being instinctive about where a Men's Shed would go, then I admit Fox St, near the model railway, feels like a better fit.

It somehow feels in keeping with the RSA, restaurant, park, railway and fire station.

I know there have been ideas thrown around about the idea of creating more boutique shops in that "town square" space, but I'm not sure the "build it and they will come" concept entirely works. There has to be people - a lot of people - who want to have a retail shop in Featherston. Where are these people? We are seeing a small revival, thanks to the upcoming supermarket and the growing popularity of the cheese shop and cafe, but Featherston is not there yet in creating lots of shops in the hope of tenants.

As an investment for the future, Featherston does need some tidy shop frontages on Fitzherbert St. It's like Monopoly - gradually build your frontages for the reward.

So if Trust House is still willing to donate the building, it should at least go on the main street frontage. I can understand if it doesn't fit with what the Featherston Menz Shed want, and they are free to say "no". But if the offer from Trust House is still good, then I say stick to the original proposal, and let the Menz Shed find somewhere else.

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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