Rail siding to create jobs
Puppy problem getting worse? South Waikato District Council has dished out big bucks for economic and community development projects including a road-rail freight terminal. Caitlin Wallace reports.
Development of a road-rail freight terminal in Tokoroa is rolling full steam ahead after a huge cash injection from the South Waikato District Council.
A whopping $2.5 million investment in the ‘‘rail siding’’ project will eventually mean the creation of 30 jobs, deputy chief executive Ben Smith said.
The venture, which has been discussed for the past six months, secured funding from the district’s $5m play fund.
Smith said the terminal would allow direct road-rail container loading and unloading, making Tokoroa a key distribution centre.
Alongside the $1.73m already invested in the project from other council budgets, it received $770,000 from the $5m.
More than 40 submissions totalling $15m sought a share of the fund.
The council will be in partnership with KiwiRail, New Zealand Transport Agency ( NZTA), R J Lincoln Logistics and other potential investors.
RJL contributed with the gifted land and $1m for equipment.
Smith said the work would start this spring with an expected finish date of March next year.
Mayor Neil Sinclair is adamant the council has invested wisely.
‘‘The development of this project fits perfectly with the council’s two strategic objectives of economic development and district promotion,’’ Sinclair said.
It will be available for use by all existing and new businesses.
The rail siding is not the only exciting venture in the pipeline for the district after the council’s announcement that $ 4.7m has been provisionally allocated to 15 economic and community development projects.
The long-awaited Leith Place upgrade received $1m on top of the $500,000 already allocated in the 2014-2015 budget and close to $1m will be used to increase the number of pensioner housing units in the district.
The district-wide plea for public transport has been answered in the form of a $200,000 scoping study.
The project will use the funds to examine the need for such a service.
Sinclair said it was a shame not all projects could be funded.
‘‘ We know that groups that missed out will be disappointed,’’ he said.
‘‘Remarkably there was a lot of uniformity in the selection, but I doubt if any one councillor selected all those that received funding.
‘‘The other debate was about the level of funding.
‘‘In general it was agreed that we had to make sure that the project would be completed and that meant granting the full amount wherever we could.’’
Of the nine projects put forward by the council during the consultation phase, three projects received provisional funding.
These are the road-rail terminal initiative, pensioner housing and the Leith Place refurbishment.
The council will be taking take the lead on four other projects, some in collaboration with the submitters and other interested parties.
The funding will remain inhouse initially, bringing the total of council-led projects to seven.
Full ahead: R J Lincoln Logistics owner Raymond Lincoln, front, is backed by Neil Sinclair and Gavin O’Donoghue.