Park decision expected
The outcome of a 60-year long saga over the use of a Whangamata¯ beachfront park bequeathed to the Council in 1929 is expected within a week.
Williamson Park is named after Philip Williamson who was responsible for donating 3.7ha of beachfront land to the Council in 1929.
The park is a popular and integral outdoor venue for concerts and festivals, including the Beach Hop and Whangamata¯ Summer Festival, attracting between 10,000 and 20,000 people, and revellers to gigs like Shapeshifter and operatic trio Sol3 Mio around New Year.
Some 195 public submissions were received on Thamescoromandel District Council’s proposed 15-year resource consent to allow a total of 20 daytime and seven night events at the park a year.
Numerous residents and groups have argued against the use of Williamson Park as a venue for events, which they say are noisy and disruptive. They say the land was donated years ago for strictly non-commercial use.
The Council has had to bring in an acoustics expert, RMA planner, solicitor and multiple staff to give evidence. It argued the history of how the beachfront reserve came into public ownership as Williamson Park shows no such prohibition.
“The original memorandum of transfer dated 11 April 1933 notes that the transferee was Madeline Williamson, the wife of Philip Williamson of Whangamata¯ ,” states evidence by TCDC Community Facilities Manager Derek Thompson. “That original memorandum of transfer states that the land was transferred to the Chairman, Councillors and inhabitants of the County of Thames to be held as a public park and recreation reserve for the use of the public for ever. The memorandum of transfer records no other constraints on use.”
In evidence, Council’s Events co-ordinator Kirstin Richmond said historically the events hosted at the park have drawn significant numbers and not required resource consents.
However under new planning rules in the Council’s Proposed District Plan (PDP), any event where over 500 people gather to participate will require a resource consent.
“The council has existing use rights which it could continue to rely on, however Council’s preference is to obtain a resource consent under the [Plan] which also provides authorisation to undertake certain additional events, including concerts.”
Whangamata¯ Ratepayers Association submitted letters from 1960 to 1962 by Philip Williamson, when the Council at the time had invited tenders for trading on the park.
In 1962 Mr Williamson wrote to the County Clerk: “The gift was made over 32 years ago, long before any suggestion of a residential subdivision scheme. It was offered to and accepted by the then County Council in June 1929 for the use of the general public for recreational purposes such as picnicking, sports, etc and was never to be used for any private commercial enterprise.
“I would ask that your Council be advised of the position so that the matter may be clearly understood, and the land be tied up in perpetuity for the purposes for which it was donated.”
Events at Williamson Park include the Anzac Dawn service, Brits at the Beach, numerous sporting events and surf club events.
These include the Billabong Grom series, Surf Club Carnival and North Island surf champs, Thunder Cats boat racing competition and prize giving, the Beach Hop Festival, Matariki Festival, Whangamata¯ Summer Festival events and concerts.
New health shuttles
St John operates two health shuttles transporting people from Whangamata and surrounds to their appointments. In September and October it transported 95 patients locally and to out of town appointments. Thanks to donations from its patients the St John Op Shop replaced both its vehicles this year. To arrange bookings phone 07 865 9011.
Rubbish bag warning
The Thames-coromandel Council will not collect rubbish bags hung from trees or poles. The council says it would only pick up bags placed on the kerbside. Its contractor Smart Environmental had some staff who have been poked by sharp objects in bags hanging from poles or trees because they’ve had to hug the bag to lift it down. Staff picked up hundreds of bags every day and it was important to help them stay safe while they’re doing their job.
No watches in exams
Students will not be allowed to wear watches into their NCEA exams this year to prevent cheating. The New Zealand Qualifications Authority has banned watches from the examination room. NZQA deputy chief executive of assessment Kristine Kilkelly said the decision not to allow watches was because some digital watches had transmitting functions to send and receive emails and messages.
Bay of Plenty kiwifruit leaders are hopeful the addition of up to 1750 extra migrant workers in New Zealand will alleviate the pressures of a critical labour shortage. On Monday, the Government announced the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme cap would increase by 1750 to 12,850 workers nationally. How many of the 1750 could come to the Bay was expected to be released later this week. Kiwifruit leaders have heralded the increase as a triumph amid an “acute” labour shortage.
Williamson Park in January when the Shapeshifter concert attracted an estimated 4200 people.