Res­i­dents op­posed to li­brary plan

Waihi Leader - - News - By ME­LANIE CAMOIN news@wai­hileader.co.nz

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.

PHOTO / ME­LANIE CAMOIN.

This patch of grass on 11 Or­chard Rd by State High­way 2, is a pro­posed op­tion for a new li­brary in Ngatea.

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