Keep it simple
Monday, 6th March, 2017
No-one was happier than prominent local Gary “Ripper” Radford when City Council decided to put on hold plans to relocate the library to Argent Street.
“Common sense had prevailed, which you can’t beat,” Mr Radford declared after the February ordinary meeting.
Like others, the passionate local businessman failed to see the logic of moving the library from its current location, particularly when it would involve council having to pay rent.
Less than a week before the meeting he penned a lengthy letter to the editor arguing against the move and calling for the Charles Rasp Memorial Library building not be demolished.
Too many old buildings which gave the city so much of its unique character had already been knocked down, argued Mr Radford, citing the historic Town Hall and former Rural Bank buildings as just two examples.
“Our community should publicly band together and stop the library from also being demolished, as the expense to retain it, other than air conditioning works, is almost nil,” he said in the letter.
Council cited costs associated with maintaining the current library building in Blende Street as one of the drivers behind the plan to relocate, along with the need to revitalise Argent Street with an anchor tenant that could draw people into the main street.
Mr Radford has his own suggestions about how council might off-set the cost of upgrading the existing library building and reinvigorate Argent Street.
For a start, he said it should investigate handing over the library to private enterprise.
“Test the water from a non-profit organisation. Look at the success of the local pool.”
As for Argent Street, the Order of Australia Medal recipient doesn’t believe wholesale changes are necessary to reinvigorate the main street.
While council has adopted and seeks funding for the Living Museum and Perfect Light Project, Mr Radford believes a more simplistic approach is needed.
“We’re a heritage mining town not King’s Cross.”
The main street could be improved out of sight, he said, if every building was simply repainted in a style and colour reminiscent of the era in which it was built.
Now there were too many shops that didn’t properly reflect the city’s heritage-listed status.
“If it’s going to be a heritage city it needs to be painted like one and not painted green or orange. Buildings should be painted to represent the era.
“Perhaps some of the BHP money could be used to assist in the cost of replacing the verandah posts that owners were forced to remove many years ago.”
The main street should also be one way, he argues, with trees down the middle and some drop off points for cars.
Speaking of vehicles, Mr Radford said the current angle parking bays were too narrow and needed repainting “somewhat wider to cater for larger vehicles and older people to easily get in and out of their vehicles”.
Security too needed to be improved if people were going to feel comfortable spending time in the CBD, particularly at night, he said.
“Argent Street and Oxide Street should have full time CCTV cameras which should be monitored from the police station.”
Mr Radford believes Broken Hill need only look to some other towns for lessons on how to improve its CBD and preserve and promote its built heritage, including the WA mining centre of Kalgoorlie.
“Argent Street should be made exactly the same at Kalgoorlie-Boulder.
“Please, Broken Hillites, give your personal thoughts via the BDT on how we can get Broken Hill back to its pioneering days.”