Driving down Maroondah Highway one can't help but get the feeling that you're driving down a ghost town, or one that is dieing a slow a painful death. Ringwood, once a vibrant suburban community has been cut in two by Eastlink and now the Global Financing Crisis (GFC).
So what can be done to rectify this? One has to start at it's head to find the solution. First impressions count, and when entering from Heatherdale Rd, you immediately see abandoned businesses. The old Holden dealership abandoned, and as you progress to the heart of town the clock tower, you'll find more abandoned businesses and a row of "smut" (tattoo parlours and strip clubs).
The widening of Maroondah Highway to allow cars to enter and exit Eastlink is a permenant road block to the revival of Ringwood. 6 lanes of highway is intimidating. Therefore a traffic solution must be engineered to fix this, so that more parking is available for businesses and importantly to encourage pedestrian traffic back. When your veins are blocked, how can the heart function?
As we progress deeper into the shopping district, more signs of decay, the abandoned Ringwood market and old post office left in decay. Ringwood market has been closed for 10+ years, and suitable replacement has not been found for it. Personally I think the site would be perfect for a Bunnings, or a hardware store competitor from the new Woolworths startup. The parking spaces, connection to the Coles/Target/Aldi and Eastland would really fill a gap.
One can't help but think this is state and local government planning issue. Ringwood is a transit hub that needs to be developed. Holistic thinking is required to transform the transport, retail and office districts into a coherenet space. Come on Brumby, get a taskforce onto it. Local members can only do so much.