Council planning to spend $150k on new playground

The skatepark at the reserve off Potts Avenue. Image: Google Maps.

Ōpōtiki District Council plans to spend $150,000 on a new playground next to the skatepark at the Volkner Island Reserve.

The playground is being funded through financial contributions imposed on developers through the consents process for subdivisions, land use or resource consents and is expected to be in place by the end of the year.

In a report received by the council at its first meeting of the year on Tuesday, planning and regulatory manager Gerard McCormack said the almost completed new skatepark was already proving to be a very popular destination.

He said that as part of the consultation the council carried out for the project, 'a large number of respondents” had asked that a new playground also be installed. Although funding wasn't allocated for a playground at that time, space was set aside for one to be installed should funding become available in future.

Because of the recent development boom in the district, $206,000 has been collected in financial contributions for acquiring or improving reserves.

The report proposes the funds be used to fund the new playground, along with a $55,000 upgrade to the run-down half-basketball court at Te Kaha Recreation Reserve, one of several reserves that the council will be returning to Te Whānau a Apanui as part of the iwi Treaty of Waitangi settlement.

'The reserve at Maraetai Bay is popular during peak holiday times,” the report said. 'The Coast Community Board has been supportive of recent approaches made to them from the community about improving the basketball court on the reserve.”

McCormack said at Tuesday's meeting that two people had made representations to the community board over the past two years about the basketball court.

The mayor and five councillors voted to accept the recommendation, with only David Moore voting against it. Louis Rapihana was not present at the meeting.

Moore questioned spending money on the half basketball court at Te Kaha when ownership of the land it was on was soon to be returned to Te Whanau a Apanui.

He also said that he was not convinced that a half basketball court was what the people of Te Kaha actually wanted. 'We've had people asking about rugby teams that are going homeless down there. I don't know how many basketball teams we have down the coast but rugby is certainly active.”

He suggested that 'a waka ama shed or something more useful” might be wanted. 'It doesn't have to be spent on sports equipment, it could be toilets or rubbish bins.”

Mayor Lyn Riesterer responded to his first point that the reserve was still council-owned land until it was officially handed back and to his second point, by saying the half basketball court was specifically asked for by the Coast Community Board .

'That money could be used for campers, it could be used for rubbish bins, it could be used for many things. It doesn't mean you have to spend it on a basketball court for a couple of people.”

This schematic of the Volkner Island Reserve in Potts Avenue shows the area reserved for a playground just to the left of centre with a four-pointed star in the middle. Image supplied Ōpōtiki District Council.

Consultation will be carried out with the community to finalise the Volkner Island Reserve playground design, similar to last year's upgrade to the Rawinia Rangi Reserve playground.

Mr McCormack said in his report that other amenities on the reserve, such as barbecues, seating areas, shelters, lighting, CCTV and toilets were to be installed by March. The new car park was now available for public use and the extension of the cycle trail to the Pipi Beds (Te Ahiaua Reserve) was expected be completed by April.

-Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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