EARLY BIRDS: If you're later than 8am, you can forget about securing a free parking spot in the new Alma St carpark.
EARLY BIRDS: If you're later than 8am, you can forget about securing a free parking spot in the new Alma St carpark. Jann Houley

Rocky workers race to grab a spot in new free CBD carpark

THE early bird catches the worm when it comes to snagging an elusive parking space in Rockhampton CBD's newest free carpark, according to Carmel Robinson.

Tired of moving their car every three hours, CBD workers, including those working at Ergon and Queensland Health, were expected to benefit from the 124 free, all-day parking spaces provided on Alma St by Rockhampton Regional Council.

News of the council's $1.25 million purchase of the block of land at the old Wintergarden site as an integral part of the CBD Parking Strategy was reported in March.

At an estimated cost of $200,000, the site was initially planned to be transformed into a carpark.

READ: Price tag and big plans for eyesore CBD block revealed

MISSED OUT: Carmel Robinson has had no luck securing a park.
MISSED OUT: Carmel Robinson has had no luck securing a park. Contributed

Ms Robinson noticed the bollards blocking the carpark entrance last Thursday morning had disappeared and rushed to secure her place along with a handful of others.

"On Friday there was only a handful of parks left at 8am,” she said.

"I think I was just lucky those first couple of days that it was not common knowledge.”

As a Queensland Health worker based in Bolsover St, Ms Robinson said she enjoyed having a carpark nearby which would cut down on a longer walk from the Archer Park railway station or The Arcade.

"I know walking is healthy but on hot days arriving to work sweaty from walking in Rockhampton's putrid humidity is not the greatest start to the day,'' she said.

She said now that word had got out it would be "slim pickings again from here on in”.

READ: State government discusses RRC's planned transport hub

That was confirmed yesterday by Tennille Griffith on The Morning Bulletin's Facebook page. She said there were no spare parks at 7.45am.

"Some thought there was to be a multi-level carpark there so weren't expecting it to be open so soon, and some presumed there would be a cost to pay so hadn't even considered it,” she posted.

"After a conversation with colleagues on my floor I realised that none of them even knew it was 'open'.”

TOO LATE: Tyneille Madden found 8am not early enough.
TOO LATE: Tyneille Madden found 8am not early enough. Contributed

Another CBD worker, Building and Asset Service's Tyneille Madden, said she usually parked in front of her workplace or down at the riverbank.

"I like the carpark. Was hoping it would accommodate more cars but beggars can't be choosers,” Ms Madden said.

Mayor Margaret Strelow said the council was pleased to throw open the gates of the new carpark just in time for some last-minute Christmas holiday shopping and a very busy period in the CBD.

"We have already seen it being used a lot since it opened last week, with office workers parking there first thing in the morning and freeing up street parking in the surrounding area for short-stay shoppers,” Cr Strelow said.

"Council saw an opportunity to make extra parking available and, with free all-day parking also available at the Alma St carpark and Pilbeam Theatre, there are plenty of spaces for people to come in and make a day in the CBD.”

Alma St carpark
Alma St carpark Jann Houley

Cr Strelow said the whole redevelopment process could take quite a while so it made sense to get the parks available in the meantime.

In a couple of years' time the carpark is anticipated to be transformed into a multi- storey intermodal transport hub.

"In terms of the future of the space, council has given approval for Advance Rockhampton to start exploring EOI options next year when the market is right,” Cr Strelow said.

"In the long term we will be looking to find suitable, qualified and experienced development companies to pitch ideas that will make best use of the site as well as continue to provide free parking spaces to our community.”

The hub would ideally be funded by all levels of government and the private sector to boost public transport and provide public parking and low-cost accommodation.



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