City sinks its playgrounds plan
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.