Over 50 people attended a public meeting in Waipu to discuss the issues concerning the development of a multipurpose concrete recreational area in Waihoihoi Park. The meeting had been called by the Waipu Residents and Ratepayers Association who had had representations from the parent’s of young folk in Waipu. The meeting was chaired by Councilor Shelley Deeming.
Neil Mcleod presented the history of the concept, which has been on the cards since Waihoihoi Park was first laid out. Designs had been drawn up for a facility to enable a number of activities to be practiced, including skateboarding, roller skating, basketball and others. The concept had been progressed to the point of Resource Consent application a few years ago, but the Council’s commissioner ruled then that the potential annoyance to neighbours was unacceptable.
The Waipu Lions were willing to support, but not lead, a project and held some funds that had been raised for the purpose some years ago. However, it was expected that some additional funding would be required.
There was an open and amiable discussion of aspects of the potential development with strong cases being made for the project and some serious concerns expressed about possible adverse effects and means of addressing the concerns. Concerns about youngster’s unruly behaviour and rubbish were raised, but the point was made that such problems also arise from adult behaviour brought on by alcohol consumption.
In particular, abuse of the Waipu monuments by skateboarders was a concern and the opinion was expressed that an alternative recreation focus might alleviate that. Discussion focused around a location at the East end of Waihoihoi park that has already been landscaped into a bowl. However, an alternative suggestion was made for locating the facility further along the park. It was noted that some concreted facilities has been made available at the Primary School, but inappropriate behaviour had resulted in some youngsters being banned from the School premises.
On a show of hands there was overwhelming support for progressing to the next step, which is to revisit and update the ideas, explore possible alternatives and to reconsider the pros and cons and management strategies. The outcome would be a more structured consultation document to take back to the Waipu community for further consideration before progressing to formal application for consent from Whangarei District Council.
A dozen people put there names forward to form a working group to progress to the next step, which might begin with a discussion of options on the park. The group includes some people with serious concerns about the earlier plans and ideas for changes that might make the project more acceptable to the wider community.