Come and check out the vibe in the heart of Thames 02 March 2021 Planters are painted, seats are in, lights are up and the new temporary, shared pedestrian space in the centre of Thames town is ready to enjoy. The trial is part of a range of Create the Vibe Thames activities to add vibrancy and colour to the town centre. (Photo: the finished space at Mary Street) It’s 90 per cent funded ($320,125.50) by Waka Kotahi/NZ Transport Agency as part of its Innovating Streets Pilot Programme with the remaining 10 per cent ($35,569.50) funded from the Thames Community Board. As it’s a pilot, we’ll be monitoring the use of the space and how the street closure affects vehicle traffic. We’re planning to leave it in place for two months and then will review how it’s working and make any changes in layout based on the review and feedback. (Photo: the start of construction at Mary Street) Work began on Monday 22 February with the repainting of old road markings and adding new road markings for pedestrians at the intersection of Pollen and Mary Street. The 2m-high fencing went up around the perimeter and then everything was installed within a few days. (Right: Planters planted by local artists and students) There's been many people working behind the scenes to make sure all the little pieces have come together. The new space incorporates seating and tables, shade, greenery, lighting, road art and impressive designs from Thames artists on concrete planters. Artists include: Kylie Gunn Clive Mapson Beverley Groves Marianne Braithwaite Jennifer Koelet Raechel Popping Paul Silvester Kristyn Irwin Hannah-Rose White Three local Thames High School students, Ruby Malloy, Haidee Halmod and Istari Sta, and their teacher, Sam Rogers There are some extra pieces that will be installed at a later date, including: Picnic tables Bike racks Bike repair station The orange fences out the front will be changed to bollards with rope You can read more about the project on our website. Safer pedestrian crossing As part of this pilot project we've painted red strips across Mary and Pollen streets where many people cross. These are courtesy crossings, not formal pedestrian crossings - vehicles have the right of way. The red strips contain the message "Stop Look" to remind pedestrians to stop and look for vehicles and then cross only when it's safe. The red strips are a reminder to drivers to slow down and watch, as pedestrians frequently cross at this busy intersection. Watch it happen We have a time-lapse video of the contractors setting up the new space. As quick as it went in, is as quick as it can all be easily removed. Click here to watch the video. Supporting local Thames businesses Over the next two months, while the trial of this new public space is on, we will be profiling some local businesses in Thames and seeing what they think of the new area. A new café for Thames – the Villager café (Photo: the new Villager café) After four great years, the owners at Café Uno hung up their aprons for the final time on Friday 12 February and handed over to Nikolai (Nik) Lockley, who is looking forward to helping make Thames buzz. Nik grew up in Waihi and has been living in Thames for the last 15 years. He initially saw the premise up for sale last year and when it came up for sale the second time around this year, he put in an offer. “With the new space in Mary Street, I thought this would be a great place for a café,” says Nik. (Right: Nik in front of the café) Since the purchase, the premise has undergone complete renovations and rebranding and a new café has taken shape. As a builder and cabinet maker by trade, Nik has completed all the renovations himself. He also trained as a chef in England, so don’t be surprised if you see him in the kitchen. Opening its doors today, the café can’t wait to greet new faces. With two chefs, one being Nik, and a barista, the café will serve more than just great coffee with an entire à la carte menu as well. The food will be organic and have options that cater for gluten free, keto and vegan palates. With an initiative to support local, Nik is getting his produce from Pakaraka Farm, growers of organic, hand-cultivated produce in the Kauaeranga Valley. In the future, he wants to have an awning out the front of the café and serve tapas and craft beers on summer evenings. So come down and visit the new shared space in Thames, whether you want some solitude, to have a nice space to hang out with friends and family, or to stop in and buy coffee and lunch from the Villager café and say hi to Nik and his staff.