Plan for Esplanade boom times needed
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.