A combination of time restrictions, parking exemptions and special permits will apply around Goulburn Base Hospital during its redevelopment.
Health Infrastructure (HI) representatives have told the council that construction would begin on the $150 million project in three to four months.
But how to manage parking for residents, staff, the school and visitors has been a vexed question for months. Extensive consultation has been underway between HI and the council since last year. The latter insisted that the community be consulted as part of the process.
It did so with letterbox drops and two drop-in sessions.
The exercise attracted 56 submissions expressing concerns about staff safety, timed parking and the risk that visitors could be fined, the impact on Goulburn High School staff and students, surrounding businesses and on those with mobility impairments.
"As the parking currently is, there is inadequate (space) to accommodate staff, which has already become constricted since the commencement (of the upgrade)," one health employee wrote.
Health Infrastructure compiled a report, which was presented to councillors at their most recent meeting.
They decided the following should apply during construction:
- 4hr time restricted zone on Clifford Street between Deccan and Faithfull Streets;
- 4hr zone on Goldsmith St between Albert and Deccan Streets;
- 2hr zones in Prell St, both sides of Goldsmith Street between Faithfull and Albert Sts, the eastern side of Albert St between Goldsmith and Clifford Sts and both sides of Faithfull Street between Clifford and Goldsmith St.
- The driveway into Prell Oval will be a no parking zone and the oval's carpark restricted to 2hrs.
- Parking exemptions permits be issued to staff from Goulburn Health Service and Good Start Early Learning Centre and staff and Goulburn High School staff and students. These permits will not apply in the 2hr zones. HI will meet the cost of these permits.
- Parking exemption permits will be issued to all registered vehicles at each residence, plus an additional one for a visitor.
In addition, the council will assess the quality of footpaths in the precinct and fund any repairs. HI will meet half the cost of this assessment. Council officers will also checks street lights in the vicinity and report any non-operational ones to Essential Energy.
Finally, the council's road safety officer will work with HI during an assessment of disabled car parking capacity in the hospital precinct and prepare a report.
General manager Warwick Bennett was keen to avoid any cost shifting onto the council as a result of the changes. As such, a report recommended that HI fund the full cost of all parking exemption permits, signage and line-marking. He later told the meeting that HI was resisting this. But Cr Andrew Banfield said they should do so because the changes were sparked by the hospital upgrade.
Meantime, work will soon begin on a temporary car park for construction vehicles on the corner of Mount and Fitzroy Streets.
Mr Bennett said rangers would police not just the parking zones but ensure builders were adhering to the rules.
"Our main priority has to be visitors to the hospital, not contractors," he said.
"They will have to drop off their equipment and take their vehicles to Mount Street. Our understanding is that HI has made this very clear in contract documents."
Mr Bennett acknowledged that some wouldn't be happy with the time restrictions due to the emotion associated with hospital visits and said the council would have to manage this aspect as best it could.
It is still pushing for a multi-storey carpark as part of stage two.
"We've set out a number of priorities we want to discuss with the State Government over the next four years," the GM said.
"...We think that (a multi-level carpark) is absolutely vital. Other regional hospitals around NSW have them and really, it is appropriate that the hospital provide car parking onsite for its own staff."
During debate, Cr Margaret O'Neill was worried that parking exemptions for staff and students wouldn't leave enough spaces for visitors.
"Will it get better or worse, because it's shocking at the moment?" she asked.
As such, councillors decided not to exempt permit holders in the two-hour zone from penalty if they overstayed.
Deputy Mayor Peter Walker agreed with numerous submissions that hospital staff shouldn't be expected to move cars during shifts to comply with the time limits.
Mr Bennett said the changes were workable.
"It will require a lot of tolerance but we'll make it work," he said.
Prell Street resident Grahame Northey has participated in the consultation sessions.
On Friday he said elderly people in particular needed to park close to the hospital.
"The reality is there will be more traffic and there will be some pain, but we have to accept some of that.The interesting thing will be what happens after construction is finished," Mr Northey said.
He argued it was incumbent on Health Infrastructure to work out a contingency plan for parking if it wasn't constructing a multi-storey carpark, "rather than leave it until the last minute."
Mr Northey was also scathing of the fact HI released its report on the consultation without advising participants.
"It's been happening since day one," he said.
"They make all these claims about consultation but it has been zero."
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