No con­sul­ta­tion

Waihi Leader - - News -

I am writ­ing this as chair­per­son of the Waihi Beach Com­mu­nity Cen­tre Com­mit­tee.

Many of you may not be aware that you, the com­mu­nity, are all part own­ers of this fa­cil­ity.

A small group of us look af­ter it and fund raise to keep up with the main­te­nance of this build­ing.

It was brought to our at­ten­tion on Tues­day, Septem­ber 18 that the West­ern Bay of Plenty Dis­trict Coun­cil have de­cided, with­out any con­sul­ta­tion what­so­ever with the Cen­tre Com­mit­tee or you the pub­lic, that they are go­ing to use the Com­mu­nity Cen­tre carpark to trial a Ki­wiCamp fa­cil­ity in Waihi Beach this sum­mer, to help man­age free­dom camp­ing.

An ar­ti­cle was in the Leader a few weeks ago con­firm­ing this. Last we all heard was that this fa­cil­ity was go­ing to go ahead at the Seaforth Rd carpark.

Now, we un­der­stand there are com­pli­ca­tions with wa­ter, con­cerns of peo­ple sleep­ing in cars and foul­ing the dunes, plus some nearby ar­chae­o­log­i­cal sites to mit­i­gate.

The lo­cal hapu¯/iwi may have also ex­pressed ob­jec­tions to this or any other site. Why then should we have the Free­dom Campers dumped and dump­ing in our carpark.

We are fully aware that we do not own the land that the com­mu­nity cen­tre is si­t­u­ated on. We only own the build­ing. How­ever, we do need ac­cess to the carpark to run all the ac­tiv­i­ties we of­fer there.

Sum­mer is our busy time for func­tions such as weddings, Christ­mas events, fairs and the huge An­tique fair plus the Arts ex­hi­bi­tion, not to men­tion the school and li­brary plus the Friends Place group, all ac­tiv­i­ties need­ing to use the carpark.

How then will it work with all sorts of ve­hi­cles, toi­lets, kitchen, and ablu­tion blocks tak­ing up a good half of the carpark.

Not to men­tion what an eye­sore for the pass­ing pub­lic and our hall users.

What sort of Free­dom Camp­ing Area is stuck in an as­phalt carpark any­way?

While we cer­tainly en­cour­age vis­i­tors to our area some con­sid­er­a­tion, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and the op­por­tu­nity for dis­cus­sion would have been ap­pre­ci­ated.

NIRIA GERBICH Waihi Beach Com­mu­nity Cen­tre Com­mit­tee chair­per­son ratepay­ers up to $115,000 to pro­vide a plat­form and ser­vices for a Ki­wiCamp fa­cil­ity.

Why is Coun­cil us­ing ratepay­ers money to sub­sidise a fa­cil­ity that will com­pete with es­tab­lished camp­ing grounds and laun­dro­mats which pay rates and/or rents to Coun­cil?

The fa­cil­ity would only be at Waihi Beach for a cou­ple of months over sum­mer.

If it was here for 100 days the cost to West­ern Bay ratepay­ers for pro­vid­ing these fa­cil­i­ties to so­called free­dom campers would be up to $1150 per night.

Coun­cil’s Re­serves and Fa­cil­i­ties man­ager Peter Watson said that the pre­ferred site, a park­ing area near Bowen­town, was cho­sen be­cause it has util­i­ties, is away from res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties, and was close to the beach and the cy­cle-way net­work.

The only prob­lem was that tan­gata whenua ob­jected.

So Coun­cil de­cided to move it to the Waihi Beach Com­mu­nity Cen­tre car park which has none of those pre­ferred at­tributes.

They did this with­out con­sult­ing the Com­mu­nity Board or res­i­dents of the nearby houses.

Coun­cil in­tends to move the fa­cil­ity to Te Puke early next year, which will prob­a­bly in­volve an­other $115,000 set-up cost.

So the $200,000 gift from Cen­tral Gov­ern­ment could ac­tu­ally cost ratepay­ers $230,000.

And be­cause this is the first stand-alone Ki­wiCamp to be set up in NZ there is no guar­an­tee it will al­le­vi­ate the prob­lem of free­dom campers.

It is more likely to ex­ac­er­bate the prob­lem.

KEITH HAY, WAIHI BEACH. Sec­re­tary West­ern Ward Res­i­dents and Ratepay­ers

As­so­ci­a­tion

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