‘Only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured’

LONGTIME Mount Morgan resident, Marlene Smith has walked the main street of her hometown countless times, but never thought it’d end up like this.

After work commenced on improvements to the town’s shopping precinct last year, steps have been built along Morgan St to level out the sidewalk.

Following the town’s successful streetscape project which was previously unveiled, it was time for the Mount Morgan Facade Improvement Scheme which was also designed to boost the town’s aesethic appeal.

Now completed, the design might not be quite as popular as first hoped.

Earlier this week, Mrs Smith expressed her concern for the welfare of residents and tourists alike who visit Morgan St to shop.

She sympathised with older people who could potentially injure themselves as a result of the differently-landscaped steps.

“I just hope someone isn’t hurt from these ridiculous steps,” she said.

“Why couldn’t the street just have been done in the lay of the land like it was previously for many years.”

Mrs Smith spotted a sign near the town’s chemist “which is taped across” warning to ‘ watch your step’.

But that wasn’t enough.

“It’s only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured,” she said.

Mrs Smith said fellow residents, such as business owner and hairdresser, Colleen Saltmer, were also not impressed by the steps.

“In all honesty, they should be removed altogether,” she said.

“Some people say it looks like they’ve just tipped cement there, but it is ridiculous the Rockhampton Regional Council said they would put rails up but these steps should not have been put there in the first place.

“If you stand at the top of the street and look down to the museum, it’s very ugly.

“Then in front of lifeline and the chemist shop they have these ugly big witches hats...it’s an eyesore.”

Rockhampton Region Councillor Cherie Rutherford responded to the claims, saying council’s focus on safety was paramount.

“When we were first considering designs for the Morgan St upgrade, one of our main priorities was to ensure that the design provided safe, level access to all businesses - particularly for the disabled and elderly,” she said.

“While it’s generally a business owner’s responsibility to provide a connection – such as a ramp – to a council footpath, we recognised the steep angle of Morgan St would make it difficult and expensive for businesses to install ramps that were up to code. “Because of this, we decided to include access to the businesses in our designs, and worked with a disability access consultant to create a design that met as many of the components of the Disability Code as possible, given the challenges of the site.”

Rockhampton Regional Council officers worked ­ ­closely with shop owners to meet their needs and those of the community.

“We dedicated a lot of thought and planning to create the best solution possible,” she said.

Based on the feedback the council received from the community, an order has been placed for handrails to improve usability of the ramps, which are expected to be installed towards the end of March. “We have been working with a number of Mount Morgan residents on the design for the handrails, and have taken the opportunity to incorporate artwork in order to further beautify the streetscape,” Cr Rutherford said.

“Once the handrails are installed, all temporary safety precautions – such as the traffic cones – will be removed.”

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