CBD upgrade: claim for compensation rejected

Cooma-Monaro Shire Council has rejected a claim for compensation by a local business for alleged financial loss suffered during the ongoing CBD upgrade.

The council said any loss of trade could be attributed "in part" to an economic downturn affecting most retail sectors.

The compensation claim was lodged by Anthony Catarino, proprietor of the Rainbow Ice Creamery and Diner at the corner of Sharp and Bombala Streets. This area, on three of the four corners bordering the roundabout, has undergone extensive upgrade lasting several months and includes new walls and pavers. The work is ongoing.

Mr Catarino said that for about eight weeks his business was disrupted, with his average trade dropping by half. He had to lay off two staff.

The business operated with six tables and chairs on the footpath.

However, the barricades erected adjacent to the business prevented placing of tables outside for customers.

"I have on several occasions endeavoured to place one table in situ for use by customers, however, the noise level associated with the use of a jackhammer and a mini excavator has deterred anyone from using the facility," he said in a letter to the council.

"In addition, the noise penetrating the internal shop area and the restricted access along the footpath has severely disrupted my customers from entering the shop and restricted my trading hours at night."

Mr Catarino told the Express that as soon as work stopped shortly before Christmas, his trade rose dramatically. He said he had daily figures to prove his claim.

Although business had improved, he was concerned what would happen when workmen returned to replace the footpath pavers.

In rejecting his claim for financial compensation, Linda Nicholson, director of engineering, conceded the Rainbow had been unable to take advantage of the footpath space, and the council would reimburse the licence fee for use of the footpath from mid-October to mid-December - $30.

However, in a letter dated November 26, Ms Nicholson said, "It is noted that most retail sectors are currently facing an economic downturn in business at the moment, and it is expected that your claimed loss of trade could be attributed in part to this. Council will not be reimbursing you for your claimed loss of trade over this period."

She said the CDB upgrade would improve the look of the area, with the aim of attracting more visitors to stop and utilize the great facilities of Cooma.

"Your business, although inconvenienced at the moment from the construction, will benefit greatly from the visual improvements made in the area," she said.

"Once completed, this area will look a lot more enticing and your outdoor seating will provide a unique view of Cooma CBD area for customers."

Ms Nicholson said the council had fast tracked work, and also programmed some work at weekends, to avoid closure of access to businesses and to reduce the impact.

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