Retailers in Katherine's main street are divided over this week's decision to divert a big chunk of their upgrade money to the hot springs.
Katherine Town Council this week voted to use $1.5 million of the CBD upgrade money to fund the long-delayed fix-up at the popular tourist spot.
Almost $400,000 had already been spent on contracting architects to deliver a plan for the revamp.
With the siphoning off of money to the hot springs, that upgrade money now totals about $3 million.
Some business owners on the main street deem the hot springs a priority, while others have condemned the council's decision.
The Top Saddlery owner Julie Newton said the council should dip into their own finances.
"To me the whole prospect of the CBD revitalisation is somewhat disappointing. There has been such a big outlay in getting consultants with very little outcome.
"So much money and time has been spent on consultation and now the money has been moved for the council's ineptitude."
Disappointed and frustrated, the long-term Katherine resident said the council has put the cart before the horse.
"There are so many general maintenance things that need to be addressed on the street... All this money they have spent on consultation and and they haven't even fixed the pavement."
"Why spend money on advertising like Katherine Alive (a new council promotional video)? Advertise all you want but if you don't have an attractive main street, what do we have.
"Word of mouth is a powerful tool."
Stephen Doyle, a resident of Katherine for 30 years, slammed the council decision saying it had spent excessively on the delay-plagued hot springs project.
"How much has council spent on this white elephant?"
"They have been working on the hot springs for three years and they can't get it right.
"The $5 million was allocated for the CBD, and that is what it should be used for... This was for Katherine, not Katherine Town Council."
A clean main street remains a top priority to the majority of business owners on the main street, the Katherine Times found again today.
While the decision to siphon money from the CBD riled most shop owners, they were equally keen to see the hot springs project finalised
Samantha Batchler opened Katherine's newest hairdresser on the main street earlier this year and was looking forward to a revamped street.
But in a town heavily reliant on tourism, she can see the importance of the springs repair.
"It is unfair that we miss out on having the main street fixed up, but what else do you do.
"They are both important aspects of the town, and if we don't have a tourism hot spot that pulls tourists in, there is no point in doing the CBD."
Katherine Real Estate agent Leah Garrett said she was disappointed in the fund reallocation, but conceded the hot springs "have to be finished".
"They need to bring as much to the town as possible, it is just a shame council is taking money from the CBD," she said.
The hot springs project began three years ago.
At a cost of $2 million from a NT Government grant, trees were ripped from the steep banks to make way for concrete paths and rock baskets.
But it wasn't long before the work began to erode. Already completed footpaths are being demolished and poured again.
As construction continues, there will be lots more rock baskets, gabions will be removed and replaced while deep footings are constructed to stabilise the eroded river bank.
Mal Roney a business owner on Katherine Terrace is just one, questioned today by the Katherine Times, who heavily criticised the initial decision to tamper with the once natural hot springs.
"[The hot springs] have been stuffed up, we should try keep things as natural as possible," he said.
"We had a pool of money for the main street and now they are dragging it away to fix something that should have been left as it was."
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