Plan for Es­planade boom times needed

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - JA­NINE RANKIN

The lack of amas­ter plan to pre­pare Palmer­ston North’s Es­planade for an in­flux of vis­i­tors verges on neg­li­gence, Scenic Rail­way vol­un­teers have told the city coun­cil.

Scenic Rail­way So­ci­ety trea­surer Colin Dyer and pres­i­dent Grant Tay­lor told coun­cil­lors at an an­nual bud­get sub­mis­sions hear­ing they should be bet­ter or­gan­ised for boom times ahead.

Tay­lor said the fu­ture for the Es­planade was ex­cit­ing, with work started on the Wild­base Re­cov­ery aviaries, con­sent granted for the He Ara Ko­tahi cy­cle and pedes­trian bridge over the Manawatu River, the de­vel­op­ment of a ju­nior road safety park, and a new sta­tion planned for the rail­way.

But he said the was no clear plan for mak­ing the changes that would be needed to cope with the ex­tra vis­i­tors.

Dyer said the so­ci­ety had en­cour­aged the coun­cil a year ago to get on with plan­ning, of­fer­ing its ex­per­tise as ‘‘the only vis­i­ble ears and eyes’’ work­ing in the Es­planade at peak vis­i­tor times.

He said the so­ci­ety was as­sured plan­ning would be­gin, and was dis­ap­pointed that had not hap­pened.

‘‘Surely you will agree that it does seem neg­li­gent that no pub­lic mas­ter plan seems to ex­ist for this prime com­mu­nity as­set of more than 100 years stand­ing,’’ he said.

Tay­lor said the rail­way’s most press­ing con­cerns were about the Park Rd en­trance to the Es­planade, car park­ing near its base, and ac­cess down to the Manawatu River­side shared path­way near the site of the planned bridge.

The cur­rent park­ing area was a large, ugly, sealed area that would need to be ex­tended, he said.

Com­mis­sion­ers who de­cided the bridge build­ing should be al­lowed had rec­om­mended use of the scenic rail­way car park for peo­ple want­ing to go down to the bridge.

At the mo­ment that would in­volve find­ing and ne­go­ti­at­ing a poorly-marked, poorly-main­tained path­way that was of­ten wet and slip­pery.

‘‘The steps down to the bri­dle path are dan­ger­ous,’’ he said.

‘‘This ac­cess work is the most ur­gent and needs to be started now.’’

Bridge-build­ing is planned to be built this sum­mer, with a dead­line for com­ple­tion by the end of June 2018.

The men said the coun­cil also needed to make de­ci­sions about a pro­posed round­about at the in­ter­sec­tion of Cook St, Park Rd and the Es­planade en­trance.

Tay­lor said it would be a shame to move the en­trance away from the cur­rent tree-lined av­enue, and that the grassed area be­tween the drive­way and the Lido would be best put to use as a car park ex­ten­sion.

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