The Reconnect Jull Street group has pleaded with the City of Armadale to use its $1 million federal government grant to revitalise the Jull Street Mall as business owners grapple with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The group, which formed early last year in a bid to tackle the anti-social behaviour affecting local businesses, took to the city council late last year with a proposal to reopen Jull Street Mall to one-way vehicle traffic.
Just five of the 26 shop fronts within the mall have reopened since WA was hit by the global health pandemic, less than half the amount that were still operational in February this year.
The group has called on the council to use the federal government funding to open the mall to one-way traffic and attract shoppers to the deserted shopping precinct and deter loiterers.
Dale Bar & Bistro general manager Joe Facey said the Jull Street Mall had been left to deteriorate and had become a hub for those looking to cause trouble.
“Fights, verbal abuse, theft, drug and alcohol abuse, extensive property damage and antisocial behaviour are a daily occurrence,” he said.
“Revitalising the Jull Street Mall is the first step to activate the heart of the Armadale CBD.
“It encourages people back into the centre of Armadale, provides natural surveillance through more people in the mall and allows the local police to drive through the precinct.”
Member for Armadale Dr Tony Buti echoed the group’s sentiments and said immediate avenues to revitalise the mall needed to be reviewed.
“We need to look at immediate avenues to revitalising the Jull Street Mall, which was in trouble before COVID-19,” he said.
“The current pedestrian-only mall has not worked for local businesses.
“We must look at alternatives.
“While not a panacea, there is merit in opening up the mall to slow moving traffic, at least for a trial period.”
City of Armadale mayor Ruth Butterfield told Examiner Newspapers that the council had recently engaged a consultant and received a presentation late last month regarding the Reconnect Jull Street Mall group’s concerns.
However, it is understood no decisions have been made at this stage, nor has a decision been made regarding which projects will benefit from the federal government grant.
While acknowledging that the city appreciated the concerns of the group, mayor Ruth Butterfield said there was no quick fix or simple solution to the issues plaguing business owners.
“The city has injected a significant amount of money into beautifying and activating the Mall over recent years including new paving, streetscaping, better lighting, public art and events,” she said.
“The proposal by the ‘Reconnect group’ will cost around $1.2m of ratepayers money.
“Before we spend that amount of money, we – as a council, must ensure we have looked at every aspect and option available to us.
“Whatever decision we do reach will be a carefully considered one that is the most effective and in the best interests of our community as a whole.
“It’s going to take time and it’s going to take a collaborative effort from all of us.”
It is understood the city had already provided the federal government with a list of possible projects that could be fast-tracked and are bound by strict criteria, including the need to complete all project works by June 30, 2021.