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