January 2000, Volume 11, Number 1
Picton knows how to throw a party.
To celebrate the completion of the latest stage of an urban redesign, 75 bottles of locally-produced bubbly were poured into the town’s new champagne fountain.
Hundreds of people — including several invited guests from Wellington who were ferried across Cook Strait for free by the Interislander and Top Cat services — enjoyed the spectacle (and the Nautilus champagne).
A Christmas parade followed, and the special guests were taken on a 90 minute cruise aboard Cougarline’s Sounds Exciting vessel.
Picton Urban Design committee chairperson Jeannine Paul says the success of the day reflected the optimism felt by the Marlborough Sounds community as it prepared for the new millennium.
“Everyone is really positive. I was talking to the owner of Picton’s largest accommodation house, and he says he hasn’t known such a positive attitude in the 30 years he has been involved with the town.”
The three-tier stainless steel champagne fountain is thought to be the only one of its type outside Europe. It has two systems, which means it can run on water most of the time, but be switched on special occasions to pump champagne.
Picton’s urban redesign project, which has received support and advice from Community Employment, has progressed in two stages. The first centred on the foreshore and the second on the town’s main retail area — the High Street.
The road has been levelled, services have been moved underground, and channelling and paving have been put in. The tiling features a wave pattern, planter boxes have been placed in the centre of the road, and plane trees have been replaced with pohutukawa and ash.
The result, says Jeannine, is that Picton has been “turned into a far more pedestrian-friendly place. Cafes now have areas outside for tables and chairs, and the owners are noticing quite an increase in business.”
Community Employment adviser te Rehia Tapata-Stafford says that back in 1993 Picton was in need of a face lift: "Today we see a very different Picton. It is a town that has quietly become a destination in its own right, which has had a positive effect on locals and visitors."
Celebrations marking the completion of the second stage came just days after Tranzrail received a resource consent to shift its Cook Strait ferry terminal from Picton to Clifford Bay.
But as Jeannine points out, “the redesign of Picton was well and truly underway before Tranzrail talked about moving.
“Obviously the best scenario is that the ferries will stay. But regardless of whether they stay or go, the town recognises that it needs to be made a more attractive place.
“If Tranzrail does take some or all of its operations to Clifford Bay, we’ve given ourselves a better opportunity to become a tourism destination in our own right.”
With a new millennium dawning, Jeannine and her team are looking to the future rather than the past. They are already planning stage three of the urban redesign, which will focus on London Quay, a road near Picton’s waterfront.
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