Susie Dunn – Hullo Santa

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susie dunn

Is the earth starting to move under our feet in the region? Will we like what we find under our tree in the morning? All of us can’t open the same present …

Since the State Government moved to amalgamate Local Government Councils and an Administrator arrived here, there seems to have been a generally cautious feeling of optimism that a new attitude and tightening of the structure would streamline advantageous change. Accelerated decision making seemed welcome. But then some didn’t like some of the decisions when the parcels were unwrapped. I tend to always be an optimist and look for the possibilities opening up.

New libraries appear to be having a resurgence in council areas. Perhaps the decision on the Armidale library move may have benefits (although I hate the idea of losing any drawcards from the CBD), and it may not be forever. So many possibilities. One I would like to see under my tree is a re-imagined plan for a single theatre/conference centre on part of the old Cinders Lane site – a more cost-effective solution to a recognised problem. Yes, this would involve a flexible, pragmatic rethink, but that’s not really the end of the world. I’m rather keen on doing the do-able rather than missing out.

One of the happiest community events of the past few years has been Council’s Turning On The Christmas Lights in the Armidale Mall. Even the year the weather wasn’t the best, it was still fun! Do come in to town on December 1 (5 – 10pm) and bring family and friends. There‘s a special Christmas tree this year, promising to be bigger and better, and you can graze on all sorts of goodies as you visit the shops and stalls, listening to great live music as you go. Santa and his elves will also be in attendance.

Don’t forget the Schools Out Pool Party at the Aquatic Centre on December 16, 3pm to close. And on Saturday December 17 it’s Kids’ Day in the Mall, 9am – Noon – fun activities and music. And there’s more … Christmas Movies in the Mall on Thursday, December 22 from 7:45pm. These free community events bring us all together – something for everyone.

The Armidale CBD really is the heart of our region’s presentation to the world, and so many of us are passionate about ensuring it has the future it deserves – as well as remembering its past glory days. It’s a case for the power of positive thinking, and the energy and attitude of some of the businesses surely deserves results. Relative newcomers to the Central Mall, such as Michelle and Roy Wheatley of Readers Companion have certainly shown by their approach that you can build loyal customers. When Lizzie Horne launched her book of poetry, Kangaroos in my blood the place was packed with an appreciative audience and a long line of buyers. With poetry nights, book launches and book clubs, they’ve shown how to hit their spot. And of course, Jane Hannon’s emporium “Things With A Difference”… well, that’s certainly what she’s got in her treasure cave! And Country Concepts is another successful business which seems to have expanded to clothe the whole family in style. Then there’s the elegance of Lyn’s Shoetique, Savages menswear to the district for decades, the wonderful Boobooks full of those special preloved books, the edgy, smart FRAME boutique women’s wear and, just nestling up to the Central Mall Foodie Bliss with its goodies … oh, gosh, I can’t list them all, can I?

One of the transformative moves for the CBD undoubtedly would be for Council to make a positive push for development of the East Mall into appropriate, well designed, well priced apartments … I can see it now, with cafés open in the Central Mall in the evening, lights, people, window shopping, and a whole new chapter whose time has come. This region has so much to offer, and there’s a fresh new year ahead for making things happen.

Do have a happy festive season, and be kind to each other.

 Susie Dunn.

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