Drive In a night for the community
The debate over gaining a 15-year resource consent for Williamson Park to host paid events and for alcohol to be allowed continues, with input from Brits at the Beach organiser Colin Mccabe
With regard to Noddy’s article last week.
Yes, Brits is a commercial entity and will be using Williamson Park this year to hold a family “Drive In Movie”.
Our preference had been for another park, but a few years ago we spent a considerable amount of money on a purposebuilt screen for the Williamson Park stage so feel obliged to use it.
The night, which is open to anyone and everyone, is a cheap family night out charged at $10 per car.
As Noddy will no doubt agree, there’s no huge profit in running Drive Ins and at $10 per car load it’ll barely cover the cost of equipment, let alone the stress of running it!
Alcohol consumption continues to be a major issue for our town, in particular during summer.
Brits does not sell alcohol, food, or anything at the Drive In.
The Brits management have also made the conscious decision to only work alongside existing licensed venues for any event that may involve alcohol.
This year we will be supplying a crowd to the Whangamata RSA and the Whangamata Ocean Sports Club. So I think that makes it a bit rich to put the Brits Drive In in the same class as a concert attracting thousands of mostly young folk at the peak summer.
Blackies, of course, is most welcome to open and sell a few
teas, coffees and lollies.
By the way, speaking of Blackies, their lease with council gives them quite a big say on what goes on within 150 yards of their business premise (basically all of the park). There’s a reason for that too, which is tied in to the original Williamson land gift!
Peter Williamson, who also donated the surf club, fire station, and school land, was obviously both visionary and astute enough to see some of the possible pitfalls of commercialising his generous gift.
I hope you don’t think I’m anti-progress or a party pooper. I’m anything but, and I’ve personally assisted dozens of events to get off the ground over the past 20 plus years that have been of great value for our community.
For me, Williamson Park is about honouring an agreement. It feels like an “honour the treaty” kind of moment. Remember we, as in the Thames County Council on our behalf, agreed to receive a gift of land, worth a small fortune, that was gifted with a few conditions which the council fully accepted. That’s it basically. We agreed, so we simply honour what our forebears agreed in good faith and move on.
But a few people, and it is just a few in council and private enterprise, want to change decades of the status quo. Why? Money mostly.
Some of you may know that I have a day job and in that job I’ve been privy to most of the Williamson Park paperwork, dating way back to the original 1929 Thames County Council acceptance letter, through the changes about adding a cafe, the debate about the cafe being allowed to sell liquor right through to the council’s losing court case around the turn of the
century. I do fear if we end up back in court, we’ll get exactly the same result! We’ll lose and pay thousands and thousands in court costs.
How much this time? Who has authorised this (possibly) costly action, or does the council even know?
It is really fabulous to see the organisers announcing Sol3mio for this year’s event. That’s a great show so good luck to them, but Whangamata does have other parks that could be used and all without the Williamson Park land gift issues.
Island View is nearly as big, Titoki Park and the Whangamata Sports Grounds are more central to the town.
It does remind me though of an event called the Summer Festival, which for 25 years ran successful non-commercial events at Williamson Park, like the Opera In The Park, and were even the ones who ‘broke’ Sol3mio to a much wider New Zealand audience.
Let’s also give a huge thankyou to that core group of people (mostly ladies) who gave up so much of their lives to bring our community great, safe and free entertainment every summer.
I hope we don’t live to rue the decision to basically kick this fantastic bunch of volunteers to touch.
PS: The screen we had made was for the community, so if anyone wants to use it to run a fundraiser drive in movie, just drop me a line!