Tag Archives: Gary Cyganek

Traders seek a safer Macedon Square

IT HAS BEEN a long road for Manningham Council at Macedon Square following opposition from local traders around the proposed Streetscape Upgrade.
Following the initial release of concept designs in August 2020, the majority of traders in the Macedon Square precinct were opposed to Council’s concept designs.
An alternative “Option C” was put forward via petition to Council by Macedon Square Traders Association (MSTA), with current Association President and owner of Egons Bakery, Gary Cyganek, presenting as the spokesperson for the disgruntled traders.
At the September 2021 Ordinary Council meeting, councillors voted to pass that a “modified Option B” be taken forward, in line with the presented Officers’ Report.
With no acknowledgement of the petitioned Option C as having any influence on the, then, final decision, and analysis of the Officers’ Report indicating that of the 192 responses to the Macedon Square Streetscape Upgrade received, only 62 were in direct response to whether or not Option A or B was the preferred option, traders petitioning for Option C felt snubbed and have since expressed a lack of confidence in both Manningham Council as an organisation and Ward councillors Dierdre Diamante and Cr Stephen Mayne.
As we go to print, Manningham Council has arranged a set of community consultation meetings on the subject of Macedon Square, with the first meeting set for September 14 at the Manningham Uniting Church.
The M&N Bulletin understands that the first meeting is designed to address the breakdown in communication that has occurred and to re-establish trust before consultation continues on how to use the allotted $3.5 million to “upgrade” the shopping centre.
M&N Bulletin recently spoke with business owners at Macedon Square about the messy situation that has developed.
Macedon Square is a vibrant shopping centre; despite being sandwiched between an ALDI and a Woolworths Supermarket, the strip has retained many traditional local shops, such as a bakery, butchers, and green grocers.
The focus of the traders recently has been around the narrowing of Macedon Road to accommodate the additional car parking spaces needed to offset the removal of parking and the proposed installation of a park on one side of The Mall.
Mr Cyganek and Monika Simonetti are business owners in Macedon Square and represent the traders opposing the plans.
Ms Simonetti, whose shop is opposite where extra parking spaces would be created and, ultimately, the roadway narrowed, described the community of Macedon Square.

“There are a lot of shops here that want to be here forever; they are not just thinking about it as a transition, and they do care about the local community and how good we can do for them as well.
“You are always trying to improve and ensure the shoppers can be happy in the environment.”

She recounted numerous incidents and near-misses with cars trying to negotiate the car park at dusk or during busy periods.
She also said that the trial sitting area set up during the Coronavirus lockdowns was not well utilised and that the concept runs contrary to the current behaviour of the shopping centre visitors.

“[In summer] it was too hot, and in winter it would be way too cold.
“We’ve been here a long time.
“People just want to come in, do their shopping, and leave again.”

Mr Cyganek added that trying to make Macedon Square a “destination” place within Manningham — such as Warrandyte or Templestowe Village — runs against the nature of the shopping centre.

“People are never going to come to this place as a destination because it doesn’t have the architecture for it.
“It’s really a boring strip shopping centre, which needs to be functional.
“Get their goods, go to the post office, go to the newsagent, go to the chemist, get their stuff and then go back home.”

In reaction to Manningham Council’s inaction, Mr Cyganek and several other traders erected signage on their shops illustrating their grievance with Council.
Still, these signs — some of which have been described as confronting — are only one aspect of the situation.
The protest about the road narrowing and the re-shuffling of the car parks is easy to focus on, but to take the conversation forward, the Bulletin asked Mr Cyganek and Ms Simonetti what Council can do to update the centre and keep the traders happy.

“Pretty much everything except the roads and the park,” said Ms Simonetti.

Mr Cyganek added a general safety upgrade of the centre was desired, including resurfaced footpaths, better bollards to separate the pedestrians and shopfronts from the cars, a reassessment of the drainage, and the trees in the centre to combat slippery leaves and bird droppings,  stating many of the issues they are facing now are a result of what occurred during a centre upgrade in 1997.
While Mr Cyganek has support from many business owners, some business owners find his methods — the use of signage on shopfronts around the centre — provocative.
Kris Rowe, Proprietor of Helloworld Travel, spoke to us about her discomfort around Mr Cyganek’s use of large, confronting signs.

“He’s putting up ridiculous, intimidating signs — I don’t think that these signs are appropriate for a shopping centre.”

Ms Rowe told the Bulletin that there are safety and congestion issues within the shopping centre.

“Cars have been crashing into buildings here for years.
“The pathways and everything in this centre is incredibly dangerous.
“The [traffic] flow is terrible, they get caught up in the lights, and they will try and duck around [the car park] the wrong way, illegally, to get out.
“The pathways are falling to pieces, are dangerous for elderly people — this centre needs upgrading badly.
“We are happy to go back and plan, but the way it is now is not good, is not safe, and it is not practical.”

Despite their clash, both Mr Cyganek and Ms Rowe both express concern around business and visitor safety in the centre and that an upgrade is needed, but the needs of the shops in the centre vary greatly — while the bakers and fruit and veg shop will be looking at hundreds of transactions per day, other businesses like the barbers and travel agents may only need a dozen to have a good day.
The challenge for Council is to develop a design that meets the safety concerns without unfairly disadvantaging traders.
M&N Bulletin asked Manningham Council for an update on Macedon Square; Acting Director — City Planning and Community, Lee Robson, provided this statement.

“Manningham Council has received a significant amount of feedback about the concept plan for the Macedon Square.
We have clearly heard that there are concerns about issues such as traffic congestion, green space, footpath widths and the car parking layout.
There has been no further work on the design as it was recognised that we need to get more clarity on the needs of traders, community and Council before we proceed.
Even though Council has engaged with many people over many years in relation to this important amenity and safety upgrade, we have listened and recognise that there is benefit in more engagement on the current plan.
To make sure we provide a fair and transparent process for feedback, we have engaged an external third party to facilitate a series of meetings with traders and the community.
Our goal is to ensure that the traders and community have a say in the upgrade and, that we can collectively find a way to improve the safety and amenity of the area.
Council is open to revisiting elements of the concept plan to ensure it achieves a balanced outcome for all Macedon Square users.”

Anyone interested in attending is  encouraged to register at macedon-square-feedback.eventbrite.com.au or by phoning 9840 9416.

Traders unsatisfied with Council

Macedon Square development has traders up in arms

THE MACEDON Square Traders Association (MSTA) is deeply unsatisfied with Manningham Council’s actions with regard to the Macedon Square streetscape redevelopment, according to MSTA President Gary Cyganek.
Mr Cyganek provided the M&N Bulletin with a copy of a letter addressed to Cr Deirdre Diamante expressing the Association’s resistance to proposed development plans.
Mr Cyganek outlined his reasons in detail in a statement to M&N Bulletin on behalf of MSTA.

“Why we fight?
14 years ago, the Council took a carpark, which was paid for by the Traders, and stuck a liquor store on top giving us reduced car spaces underneath and we stood by and let it happen.
Now they tell us we need to have an open space (in a strip shopping centre!) narrow the road from 6.2 metres down to 5.3 metres near the minimum for an Aisle carpark and this is a road!
And they expect us to stand by and say thank you! For a plan that will be less safe and destroy retail! As they have said they want to turn us into Templestowe Village!
A restaurant precinct that killed all the significant retail over 20 years ago.
No butcher, no fruit shop, no bakery, no fish shop et cetera, and if you talk to the shop owners up there, they would love these businesses back!
Retail flourishes in Macedon Square but for some reason the Council either by design, or ignorance, or arrogance because they are supporting the Landscape Designer whose vision this is!
They have no regard for the retail businesses that their plan will ruin!”

At the September 2021 Ordinary Council Meeting, a “modified” Option B was presented to Council in an Officers’ Report which was moved by Cr S Mayne, seconded by Cr Diamante and carried unanimously by all councillors present, with no speakers against.
Mr Cyganek told M&N Bulletin the movers of the motion “collectively should be held accountable for their actions and hence this is why we are now campaigning to vote them out of office in 2024”. Mr Cyganek, as the spokesperson for MSTA has expressed that the Association feels extremely let down by Council and it feels the Association’s point of view has been disregarded.
In the early phase of the Macedon Square consultation in late 2020, early 2021, the Traders presented a petition for Option C, as discussed in the October 2021 edition of WD Bulletin.
The Option C petition proposed the following:

  • The overdue upgrade of the sidewalk with a material to be chosen by the Council and safety being the priority.
  • Attention shown to the management of the trees and their location.
  • We would like to have a consultation with the traffic management engineer to maximise the parking possibilities.
  • We would like to be consulted on the location of bins and street furniture, with the idea of maximising the existing abundance of open space in the centre.

A review of meeting minutes and Officers’ Reports from September 2021, indicates in the consultation period for Council’s community consultation on the community’s preference for either Option A and Option B, 192 responses were received, but only 62 were in direct response to whether or not the respondent preferred Option A, or B, or neither.
The Traders Association Option C petition and another petition titled “Stop the destruction of Macedon Road” combined make up more than half of the feedback, but it seems the petitions did not contribute to the final yes/no tally, as their response did not fit the parameters of the original survey.

Campaign sign outside Egon’s Bakery in Macedon Square

M&N Bulletin approached Manningham Council with a number of questions regarding the frustration and lack of confidence expressed by the Traders Association.
Council’s responses below are attributed to Manningham Mayor Cr Michelle Kleinert and Manningham Council CEO Andrew Day.

“Council consulted on the draft concept plan on four separate occasions throughout 2020 and 2021.
Council adopted the concept plan at its Council meeting in August 2021, and has now proceeded the project through to a detailed design phase.
We expect to engage further with the community on specific design outcomes from mid 2022.
There are still final design elements that we will be seeking feedback on in coming months.
These include:

  • permanent safety treatment within the centre; • further investigation of other suggestions such as locations for new trolley bays, electric vehicle charging station, car share spaces and smart waste bins;
  •  design elements and street furniture that best suits the needs of existing traders in appropriate locations throughout the centre; and
  • an opportunity to hear from traders regarding how to best manage and mitigate construction impacts and timing.”

M&N Bulletin asked Council for a response to Mr Cyganek’s “calling out” of Crs S Mayne and Diamante.

Its response:

“Council has adopted the concept design. Councillors have been present at community engagement sessions held both with the wider community and trader focused events.
Noting that any decisions on this important community project are made by all nine Councillors, Cr Stephen Mayne is the Ward Councillor and Cr Deirdre Diamante the Ward Councillor for an adjoining Ward.
Both Councillors have been actively listening to community feedback.”

M&N Bulletin also asked Council for a response to the vote of “no confidence” by MSTA.

They responded:

“The concept design has been developed through consultation with the community and traders. “Expert advice has been sought in regards to key elements including safety, parking and traffic movement.
The design seeks to primarily address pedestrian safety issues in the centre, improve ageing infrastructure and maintenance issues, and provide a dedicated community space to support the local precinct.
The design took on the feedback from the consultation and has incorporated features such as:

  • No net loss of parking spaces from what is currently available (132 spaces).
  • Refine road widths along Macedon Road to improve safety for pedestrians.
  • Provision of a new gathering space for community to connect and thrive.
  • New loading bays along Macedon Road.
  • Provision of a new roundabout at the intersection of The Mall and Rosa Street.
  • New and relocated pedestrian crossings to improve pedestrian connectivity and assist to reduce vehicle speeds and congestion.
  • Repositioned accessible parking bays.
  • Increased footpath widths for outdoor dining and trading areas.
  • Safety barrier treatments for improved pedestrian safety.
  • Improvements to the western laneway for large truck loading and access.

Mr Cyganek has made it clear to M&N Bulletin that he holds the individual councillors and council officers to account for the rift which has formed between Council and the Macedon Square traders community and Mr Cyganek has stated MSTA is “now campaigning to vote them out of office in 2024”.
But the 2024 Local Government Election is a long way away, hopefully, Council, Councillors, and MSTA are able resolve this issue before then.

Where do you stand on the Macedon Square development?
Email bulletin@warrandytediary.com.au and let us know.