City sinks its play­grounds plan

Hamilton Press - - FRONT PAGE - KEL­LEY TANTAU

Hamil­ton City Coun­cil’s Play­grounds of the Fu­ture plan may meet a pre­ma­ture demise, with coun­cil­lors in­stead look­ing to tighten the purse strings.

The plan, first in­tro­duced in 2015, has been caught in the cross­fire of bud­get dis­cus­sions.

City coun­cil­lor Ge­off Tay­lor said the $1 mil­lion price tag for the ap­proved Hare Puke Park ‘‘verges on ob­scene’’.

But coun­cil­lor An­gela O’Leary said the fig­ure was re­al­is­tic, with ini­tial Des­ti­na­tion Play­grounds cost­ing be­tween $1m to $1.3m.

A ‘‘des­ti­na­tion-type’’ play­ground for Hare Puke Park in Flagstaff had been given the green light, but O’Leary fears this may be the last Des­ti­na­tion Play­ground con­structed un­der the cur­rent coun­cil.

‘‘Des­ti­na­tion-type is the key,’’ she said. ‘‘I don’t know what that means.

‘‘Staff re­ports are be­ing a lit­tle vague and that’s what hap­pens when you de­vi­ate from de­ci­sions that have al­ready been made.’’

The Des­ti­na­tion Play­grounds were due to be com­pleted by 2030 with Moon­light Drive Re­serve.

If the Play­grounds of the Fu­ture plan is culled, five other lo­ca­tions will re­main bare, in­clud­ing Hill­crest, Brem­worth and Te Manatu Park.

O’Leary said the plan has been thrown out the win­dow.

‘‘This is not a cof­fee ta­ble book. This was a well-thought out plan we con­sulted on in the 2015 ten year bud­get,’’ she said.

‘‘We’ve got a bud­get in the plan for another five and they are all go­ing to miss out.’’

O’Leary said the demise of the plan was brought to her at­ten­tion by Hamil­ton Mayor An­drew King, who said the ma­jor­ity of coun­cil­lors were against pur­su­ing the project.

Even though a new mayor and coun­cil­lors sit in the cham­ber, it doesn’t mean they can turn around on ev­ery prom­ise, she said.

‘‘I guess they are goneb­urger and I just don’t un­der­stand that.

‘‘I think it’s in­cred­i­bly short­sighted and ar­ro­gant to chuck it out when we’ve com­mit­ted to it and it’s what peo­ple want.

‘‘Ratepay­ers have been ask­ing for this for a long time. It’s their money. If they want Des­ti­na­tion Play­grounds then it’s up to us to make that hap­pen. I think it is a tragedy, I re­ally do.’’

King will present his draft bud­get this month and elected mem­bers will put for­ward pro­pos­als later.

O’Leary said she would con­tinue fight­ing for Des­ti­na­tion Play­grounds. Peo­ple could have their say early next year.

A Face­book group called Save Hamil­ton’s Des­ti­na­tion Play­grounds has been formed with 150 peo­ple show­ing sup­port.

As well as the des­ti­na­tion-type play­ground for Hare Puke Park, a smaller play­ground for Te Huia Re­serve has been ap­proved for $150,000.

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