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Local Government

Reality and detail lacking in long term plan

Staff are stretched. Finances are tight, not just for our Council but for others as well, though the cost of cyclone recovery and catch up has had more bearing on budgets for TCDC than say, Hauraki District Council
 |  Pauline Stewart  | 

This could explain the way things seem to be working for local regional development in terms of presenting its Long term Plan (LTP). The process seems to be that major decisions are made after a lot of discussion and research within staff environs; a budget figure is set and then opinion from the ratepayer is sought by way of submission both individual and group, followed by verbal submissions and presentations at public meetings. A sticking issue is that the means to make a proper and informed submission would be to first check budget lines and view some sort of visual or diagrammatic presentation of a major budget item. For example, if it’s a swimming pool complex or esplanade development, a carefully outlined detailed budget along with drawings or relief presentation would be needed as part of any LTP proposal.

This largely has not happened with the major proposals and the date for written submissions has passed. This could mean that consultation open to making big changes is merely a lip service formality. LTP’s five key areas do seem to point to choosing options from an already decided direction. One can make a choice on the options but not change the direction. When a resident really disagrees with something, this can feel like tinkering but not having the confidence in making a significant change.

However, this last week, the detail presented in the TCDC newsletter regarding the swimming pool complex in Thames, and the esplanade development in Whitianga are detailed and track a journey not previously revealed.

The following is welcome reading.

“We’re keen to hear people’s views on a new pool facility to serve Thames’ future. Thames Centennial Pool is located on a sacred urupā (burial ground). Our Council and Ngāti Maru have agreed to remove the facility and return the land to Ngāti Maru in 2027.”

It explains why a new pool and a new location is needed. It does seem to emphasise Thames rather than a sub regional centre serving the peninsula mentioned elsewhere in budget proposals.

Be it late, it is a good sign and worth reading. The background work regarding finding a swimming pool option is impressive and obviously the cost of this preparation has already been spent.

The consultation will allow some tinkering around the edges of a decision but no real base shift. There has been so much input and decision making to this point; so asking for choices which can add or take away a layer to tinker with this major decision is the concession that can be offered.

A comparison with a pool complex opened in Gisborne eight months ago is interesting:

Council paid only $5.65M of the $46 million that this cost – the remaining funding was through the Crown Infrastructure Project. Further government funding of $810,000 paid for solar heating. This “massive” project includes a 50m x 25m Olympic sized pool with a moveable floor, a toddlers pool, a hydrotherapy pool all under cover. There is also a café, an event hire room, indoor changing rooms and storage. Extensive landscaping and cultural art decoration are also included.

TCDC might look closely at Gisborne’s example. Government and private funding might follow.   

With the information available, the knowledge of the urupa was there in the 1860’s. Whatever happened to that knowledge to have a pool built right there? Was there investigative decision making at the time of the pool surveying and construction that could have prevented a complete change of location 50 years later? What could be a worthy use of the land reclaimed by Ngati Maru?

Visual impressions and budget needed

The consultation will allow some tinkering around the edges of a decision but no real base shift. There has been so much input and decision making to this point; so asking for choices which can add or take away a layer to tinker with this major decision is the concession that can be offered.

A comparison with a pool complex opened in Gisborne eight months ago is interesting:

Council paid only $5.65M of the $46 million that this cost – the remaining funding was through the Crown Infrastructure Project. Further government funding of $810,000 paid for solar heating. This “massive” project includes a 50m x 25m Olympic sized pool with a moveable floor, a toddlers pool, a hydrotherapy pool all under cover. There is also a café, an event hire room, indoor changing rooms and storage. Extensive landscaping and cultural art decoration are also included.

TCDC might look closely at Gisborne’s example. Government and private funding might follow.   

With the information available, the knowledge of the urupa was there in the 1860’s. Whatever happened to that knowledge to have a pool built right there? Was there investigative decision making at the time of the pool surveying and construction that could have prevented a complete change of location 50 years later? What could be a worthy use of the land reclaimed by Ngati Maru?