Businesses left in dark
A $ 1.5 million Leith Place upgrade has the town excited but until a design is revealed there is no telling what will happen.
The South Waikato District Council allocated $1m to the project from the district’s play fund on top of the $500,000 already set aside in the annual plan.
But the expensive new look is not coming any time soon with council estimating at least one year until a plan can be implemented.
For now, Visitor Solutions will be conducting research and working with businesses while the Sports and Events Centre architect Pete Bossely will be in partnership with Wraight and Associates to design a plan.
Deputy mayor Jenny Shattock said it is the right time for an upgrade.
‘‘We really do need it, the sooner the better.’’
Shattock said the last development, which was over a decade ago, worked well but they need business support.
‘‘Council won’t go ahead without consulting businesses,’’ she said.
The only formal communication with business owners so far was in the form of a letter.
The much needed upgrade will not only be a sigh of relief to Tokoroa residents.
Tokoroa i-site team leader Mary Winikerei has worked at the visitor centre for 10 years.
Working five days a week at the busy facility, Winikerei said she sees at least 120 bus passengers come through Tokoroa each day.
And she hears everything they have to say, most of which is sent back to the council.
‘‘The toilets are not great,’’ she said.
She often hears complaints about the unavailable nappy changing area and cleanliness.
‘‘A lot of people don’t think it’s clean because it’s got that concrete feel,’’ she said.
Winikerei described the planned upgrade as ‘‘putting your make up on’’.
‘‘ This is their first taste of Tokoroa, if they think this is grotty they will think the whole town is grotty.’’
Tokoroa and Tirau i-site manager Garry Brunton agreed with Winikerei.
‘‘When people first land on our door, they need a positive image – it needs to be welcoming and it needs to show a brand,’’ he said.
Brunton also hopes for an opportunity to upgrade the i-site.
‘‘I’ll be pushing for a new visitor centre,’’ he said.
But at this early stage there is no telling what will happen.
‘‘In the master plan, we don’t know what you can physically do.’’
Long awaited: Mary Winikerei has spent the last ten years on Leith Place and is excited for the change. Winikerei has spent the last ten years on Leith Place and is excited for the change.