Park de­ci­sion ex­pected

Coastal News - - News - By ALI­SON SMITH news@coastal­news.co.nz

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.

Ex­tra work­ers

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.

PHOTO /FILE

Wil­liamson Park in Jan­uary when the Shapeshifter con­cert at­tracted an es­ti­mated 4200 peo­ple.

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