Radich wants to go

After the local elections, the new mayor of Dunedin, Jules Radich, took the lead. On Monday, he was installed in the mayor’s office at the Civic Center and was in a hot mood when The star journalist Simon Henderson sat down with him to discuss some of the big issues facing the city.

Incoming mayor Jules Radich appears in fine form as he prepares to piece together the many threads of his agenda for his three-year term.

Although he is still technically elected mayor until he is sworn in, Mr. Radich is already hard at work, settling into a high rotation of meetings and phone calls.

One of the main issues in Mr. Radich’s election campaign was the redevelopment of the George St.

Despite construction already well underway to pedestrianize and reduce the one-way street, Mr Radich said there was still time to make changes without significantly increasing the cost.

“I don’t think it’s necessary to build it permanently so that it would be very expensive to change it in the future, I think it’s better to build it flexibly so that at some point in the future things might be changed.”

Three of his fellow Dunedin team members – Kevin Gilbert, Brent Weatherall and Andrew Whiley – were elected to the council.

One idea proposed by the Dunedin team was a loop bus using small electric vehicles that could replicate the old tram system that operated in Dunedin, and could even be a tourist attraction.

Mr Radich was already working on the idea, but said there would be a lot more discussion needed with the parties involved, working out the processes and costs that might be involved.

“There are a lot of stakeholders that need to be consulted on this.”

Mr Radich was in favor of the government investing in the southern rail network, for example by doubling the railway from Mosgiel to Dunedin.

But he was not interested in spending council money or raising rates to pay for it.

His business background could help when it comes to ideas on revitalizing the performing arts in Dunedin, he said.

Mr Radich found the end of entertainment venues such as Sammy’s, owned by Dunedin City Council, “very sad”.

“I think now that the board has more business brains involved, we’ll look at it and decide what to spend, and where.”

He suggested there was a better chance of something being done as a result of the council change.

When it comes to environmental challenges, one of the first to be tackled would be the beach at St Clair.

This would involve adding more sand to the beach to stop erosion by restoring wooden groynes.

“I believe the groynes will accumulate sand offshore as they have in the past.”

Erosion at St Clair Beach was “about the same” as it was in the 1900s, Mr Radich said.

Next on its environmental challenges would be a more significant increase in the amount of recycling going on in the city.

Another issue that could be a challenge was housing because it took time and money to build it.

“However, we have a significant amount in the budget for this and my focus will be on spending this money in the most effective and efficient way.”

“I’d like to build more for the amount of money we have – I’d like to have more field units available to people at an earlier time.”

Whatever the issue, key to his goal was to reach out to the community as much as possible.

“I intend to put in place mechanisms that allow for greater engagement with the citizens of Dunedin.”

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