Work on con­tro­ver­sial car park to start next month

Bay News - - Front Page - By Car­men Hall

The former Phoenix car park in Mount Maunganui is ex­pected to be trans­formed into a green space by December in time for the sum­mer sea­son— but not every­one is happy.

The con­tro­ver­sial $2 mil­lion project met op­po­si­tion from some lo­cal re­tail­ers and res­i­dents but was ap­proved by Tau­ranga City Coun­cil in­April last year.

Se­nior strate­gic ad­viser Fiona Nalder said about 70 per cent of the fund­ing was from de­vel­op­ment con­tri­bu­tions and re­newal bud­gets with the re­main­der of costs be­ing picked up by a rate-funded loan. Con­struc­tion of the project would start next month.

Ms Nalder said the new space would sup­port the grow­ing visi­tor and res­i­den­tial pop­u­la­tion by invit­ing peo­ple to stay longer in the Mount CBD, with lo­cal busi­nesses en­joy­ing the eco­nomic ben­e­fits through in­creased foot traf­fic.

“It will cre­ate a greater sense of be­long­ing for our com­mu­nity by en­cour­ag­ing so­cial in­ter­ac­tion through a shared space to rest and play.”

The park would have na­tive plant­ings and trees, a grassed area and could be used for events, in­clud­ing mar­kets, and was de­signed for peo­ple to en­joy, she said.

Mount Maunganui/Pa¯pa¯moa ward coun­cil­lor Leanne Brown said it had been a long jour­ney and a “leap of faith”.

There had been a lot of scep­ti­cism, but she was hop­ing it would be as suc­cess­ful as the Pi­lot Bay board­walk when it was at the same stage.

“I don’t think any­one would dis­agree that it wasn’t a good de­ci­sion at the time. I don’t think peo­ple will truly be­lieve in it un­til it’s fin­ished and done and starts be­ing utilised.” She ac­knowl­edged some peo­plewere con­cerned about park­ing, but the coun­cil was work­ing on a plan.

Ar­tas­tic Print Place owner Mark Run­dell, who was a strong op­po­nent of the green space, said since Jan­uary his busi­ness was down sig­nif­i­cantly. “I’ve lost thou­sands of dol­lars.” He was also aware of other busi­nesses who had faced the same predica­ment. In his view los­ing the car park was the wrong de­ci­sion.

“The coun­cil will go boldly where no one else wants to go.” Mr Run­dell said he would not be sur­prised if some busi­nesses in the Mount folded as park­ing­was still ama­jor is­sue.

Photo / File

Con­struc­tion on the Phoenix car park will start next month and is ex­pected to fin­ish in December.

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