Residents opposed to library plan
Hauraki District Council is trying to “force their way” with the Ngatea library project, ratepayers say.
Residents raise concerns over Hauraki District Council’s Long Term Plan proposal for the Ngatea library.
After revamping Waihi library in 2014 then Paeroa, Council want to upgrade Ngatea’s library, the last town of the district.
But residents say that Council’s preferred option, to partner with the Haurakian Trust and build a new library by the Hauraki Plains College, is “unsafe and unnecessary”.
Former Plains Councillor Valda Laurich says ratepayers would have to chip in if Council goes its way.
“Around $1.5 million is the amount that ratepayers might have to contribute for the new building only,” she says.
“The trust was formed to expand the college’s facility and I can’t understand why council would spend millions on a land that they do not owned,” she says.
Earlier in May, Council asked residents’ feedback on the proposal and offered five options as part of its Long Term Plan.
Council said its preferred option (number 5) is to build a new library with community services and council’s annexe on a piece of land, on 11 Orchard Rd, owned by the Haurakian Trust.
“Advantages of this particular site include that the land would be available straight away as there is a current shortage of land for business purposes of this size in the area,” it says.
The Trust is made up of seven people, with some being past members of the college or having connections to it, chairman Neil Gray says.
Plains Ward Councillor Gill Leonard, who is working on the feasibility of option 5, is also a member.
Neil says there has been a lot of misunderstanding about the project but Valda feels Council’s preferred option is biased.
“The College and Council are separate entities but in a way I feel they are linked,” she says.
Council says it will be seeking further feedback and input from the community before any future designs or plans are finalised.
Ngatea PROBUS group, a social group with 141 members, says it wants Council to maintain and upgrade the current library, built in the early 80s.
“On the proposed site [at the college], the trucks are coming fast over the bridge and if the college has a function there we will end up with no parking. Council shifted the old pedestrian crossing from the front of the college to 200m further away to where it is now because they needed more clear vision for trucks to stop. So the proposed site is unsafe, especially for seniors crossing there,” FOCUS president Bryan Major says.
Committee member Raymond Bayer says that people in his age group [60+] are “definitely opposed” to Council’s preferred option.
Council says it is aware of the community’s concerns. “Some good points were made, so we’ve decided to park the project while we look further into the issues that were raised, such as access to parking, the protection of Council’s investment and the proposed governance structure. We won’t make a final decision on which option to pursue until we’ve completed this work and talked with the community some more,” it says.
Residents opposing Council’s preferred proposal agree they want to upgrade the current facility, which is located in a less busy stretch of SH2 at the Hugh Hayward Domain, a Councilowned reserve land.
The building encompasses Sport Waikato, the Plains Profile newspaper, Senior Net and Contact Care offices.
“It is in a great place, near the domain, public pool, kids’ play area and most of all easy to drive into safety and park,” resident Steve Schmidt says.
The existing library has also carpark space at the front and the back, meaning it has the potential to be expanded.
For this option, Council will need to borrow an extra $200,000 to double its size.
It will increase rates by $8.50 a year instead of $18 for the estimated $3.5 million Council’s preferred option.
“Paeroa and Waihi libraries are stand-alone buildings owned by Council.
“Why are they [Council] not doing the same system here?” she says.
Residents who opposed the project plan say they are determined to be heard by Council.
“Seventy six per cent of submitters supported the library service staying where it is with 43 per cent going for extending the current library and only 17 of them supported Council’s preferred option,” she says.
Council says extending the existing library is still an option.
“We will be discussing it when we talk with the community some more in late 2018 and early 2019 before deciding on a final option.”
Residents launched a petition last Friday.
This patch of grass on 11 Orchard Rd by State Highway 2, is a proposed option for a new library in Ngatea.