Sixth Street’s done, now for the main game

The curtain has now come down on one of the great civic dramas of our time: the redevelopment of Sixth Street, Murray Bridge.

The money has been spent – state and federal taxpayers' money, not ratepayers' money – the car parks moved, the businesses inconvenienced for seven long months and the finished product unveiled.

A punter approached me in the street on the day, asking what I thought.

"It's very modern," I offered diplomatically. He, like many in our community, was not impressed.

But it was interesting to note Mayor Brenton Lewis' comments about who the council was aiming at with the revamp: local residents and businesses, yes, but also the workers who commute from Adelaide, the young professional types who could help give our economy a kick if they could only see the common sense in coming to live here.

There are a few ingredients such people look for in a destination, speaking as one of them from a few years back: job opportunities and affordable housing are two big ones, and both get ticks, depending on one's occupation.

You need sporting clubs where strangers are welcomed and get a fair chance to get a game; a bit of culture, some live music or arts; some decent places to eat and shop.

But the people who left the country as soon as they turned 16 will only come back, and those who grew up in the city will only consider moving, if they can be reassured that there are little slices of urban life outside the metro area, comforting little patches that feel familiar to them, like transplanting a seedling with a bit of potting mix.

That is the vibe I get from Sixth Street.

Now, we can all agree that Bridge Street needs attention, especially now that its cousin round the corner is all spruced up.

Commenters on The Standard's Facebook page this week wanted a new-look streetscape, longer trading hours, fewer empty shops and a perk-up for Diamond Park.

Councillors have tried a couple of times to face the main sticking point head-on: whether to keep a four-lane street or narrow it to make room for more car parks and pavement.

That discussion will need to start again if the idea of a main street revamp is ever to get off the ground.

Vote in the poll below to help get the ball rolling.

Peri Strathearn

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