The Barr government has wrought many major changes to the face of Canberra in recent years.
A large number of these have come about as a result of the shift in the ACT's demographic centre of gravity that has been in progress for more than a decade with the development of Gungahlin and its adjoining suburbs.
Other influences have included the redevelopment of the once wasted Kingston foreshore and the reinvention of Northbourne Avenue that was one of the driving forces behind the push of light rail.
While these developments are all commendable in many different ways, it has to be acknowledged that they have all come at a price.
This includes a lack of attention to Civic itself, which has seen the precinct criticised by many Canberrans as grungy, unkempt and unwelcoming in recent years.
Similar comments have been made about the town centres in Tuggeranong and Manuka.
While southsiders have long complained they seem to be destined to be treated as second class citizens in perpetuity this experience is a novel one for Manuka residents.
This area was, until recently, widely acknowledged as one of the jewels in Canberra's crown. Manuka was well known as a lively, attractive and vibrant precinct which offered a happy conjunction of quality shopping experiences and an abundance of hip venues.
The same was true, to a slightly lesser extent, of old Kingston.
The shift in the demographic centre of gravity, coupled with a well documented decline in the amount of civic love being given to keeping these spaces nice, has meant this has changed - and not for the better.
Manuka residents are now concerned their town centre is in a state of depressing decline
Manuka residents are now concerned their centre is "in a state of depressing decline".
They have cited empty shops, littered streets, cracked footpaths and neglected laneways as visible signs of a "decaying group centre".
Griffith Narrabundah Residents' Association president Leo Dobes said the decline could be arrested if footpaths were repaired, laneways were reinvented as "Melbourne-style" alleyways and transport services between Manuka and Capital Hill were upgraded.
He said that a notable fall in government spending on the precinct in recent years had contributed to its decline.
"We fear that a part of Canberra's heritage will be lost," he said. "Not heritage in the traditional sense of the word, but in the cultural sense."
While stopping short of endorsing Mr Dobes's claim the area was in a "state of depressing decline", John-Paul Romano of the Inner South Canberra Business Council said it was a shadow of what it had been in the 1990s.
He agreed that more government and private investment was needed.
These latest concerns about the state of Manuka echo ongoing concerns about the standard of maintenance of road verges, nature strips and parks and green belt areas across the city.
They are a timely reminder that while it is important for the ACT government to commit to the Canberra of the future we need to ensure that this is not done at the cost of what we already have which is treasured by many.
It should be possible to strike an acceptable balance between the best elements of the older town centres, which have done so much to define the bush capital's unique character, and the city of the future that is coming into being.
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