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TCB Meeting 9 December 2013

Yesterday's Board Meeting started with a spirited public forum from Peter Wood on a number issues, including the continuing failure to deal with the Thames Pensioner Trust regarding the vacant TCDC Lowe Avenue land needed for pensioner housing.

Adrian Catran followed Peter Poeschl, who as Market Organiser made submissions in favour of running a three month trial of street closure and stalls in the centre of the road as proposed in the Paper on the Market.

Adrian provided contrary advice and claimed that no consultation has taken place with the Grahamstown Business Association, of which Peter is a member. Questioning failed to elicit any clarity, and it seems that further discussions will be necessary.

Greg's Paper looks a little premature, and I did not wait to hear what eventuated, but an immediate trial seems unlikely. I will try to keep a handle on this issue and update it later. (I have now been reliably informed that the Trial has been postponed indefinately - that seems wise!)

The main issue of the day surrounded the Sport and Recreation Review – presented by Steve Bramley (SGL Group), and architect Glenn Brebner. Note : This not yet on-line. (I have asked Greg if he will put it up, or make copies available from his Office - it is a 60 pager!) Later fom Greg "It will be going on line by the end of the week")

The Report is the most comprehensive review ever of existing Thames facilities, and options for future development around the Dry Court, Grandstand and Skate Park that we have heard so much about. Steve has been involved from the outset of the Dry Court proposal, and I have been sceptical with regard to some of his earlier work, but he now appears to be on the right track.

As readers will be aware, I believe that in the face of the insistent demands of Zoom Zone in particular, that neither staff, consultants nor councillors have paid anywhere near sufficient heed to the requirement for an aquatic centre to replace the existing, and deteriorating pool. A definite change of attitude was noticeable yesterday, both during this presentation and that surrounding the TUGRA Account. This may have come about through encouragement from Strat, who although strongly supportive of the Dry court in particular, actually recognises the obligation that the Board has to promote the need for the new pool.

The simple fact of the matter is that the $2m that may or may not be available from the TUGPRA A/c will disappear rapidly in meeting the needs for the dry court, grandstand and a skate park – a total of $7.2m according to Steve Bramwell, of which he proposes $4.6m from the Council, and the remainder from outside sources that he was happy to quantify. His other hat is that is that of fundraiser, and he seemed very confident of those figures. His track record in that area from my own knowledge is pretty good. I guess that we can expect to see him around for several years advising the Board in that regard.   

The plans that were presented for the Dry Court at the High School (Steve may not be aware of the likely transfer of title to this site to Ngati Maru under the terms of the Settlement), and the raised single story grandstand at Rhodes Park, together with changes in the layout of other facilities at that venue, appeared very practical. Together with the more imminent Skate Park (now $220,000 - $80,000 form TCDC) at the northern end of Porritt Park, the plans probably represent the minimum necessary to meet the needs of all the groups concerned.  

What has changed is that Steve is adamant, and this appears to be supported by Greg and others that the aquatic centre must now be regarded as a district, if not regional project – that is how it is being promoted by Sport Waikato, and it makes sense, as long as parochial councillors can be persuaded of its merit. It would need to be a competitive pool that meets national standards and the cost would stretch anywhere from $10m to $15m depending on the outdoor/indoor aspect, and finishing touches.

I am impressed with this concept, and believe that the Board, and Council will need every encouragement to achieve this outcome, and bring regional partners aboard, even if shades of the Velodrome frighten the horses. The difference is that this is something we can all use, and would really give a boost to the town like no other project – forget all the TUDS nonsense that appears to be going nowhere.  

I also like the options that were presented in regard to the siting of the facility – all this information is contained in Greg’s covering Report, but the most favoured option appears to be at back of Porritt Park/Danby Field, adjacent to the proposed Skate Park.

What did concern me was that the proposed Steering Committee to be chaired by Peter French did not appear to have any mandate as far as the pool is concerned. If that is the case, then it will again go to the back burner. Hopefully this will now be corrected so that it can remain at the forefront of the Committee’s mandate, even if it is to be a ‘regional’ facility.

Another issue concerns the status of the existing engineering advice – obtained at least six years ago, and which suggested a life of just ten years (2017!) – sinkage and leakage being the major, and accelerating problems. This date has slipped out to 2020 in the TYP, and a follow-up engineering report is now well overdue.

These discussions and decisions are entirely subject to what is coming out of the current Council financial review. There were indications from Strat (who will have attended the Finance Workshop on 7 December) that the financial situation is sufficiently serious for all of the discussions regarding sports facilities to be entirely hypothetical.

Final decisions regarding the Draft Annual Plan are postponed until the Council and workshop on 18 and 20 December. Final discussions by the Board on all these matters have been postponed until a January workshop.   


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Reader Comments (1)

Open Air Markets work extremely well if the marketeers are people who produce quality merchandise, sold exclusively at the market, and over time establish the market as a 'place to go'. The Thames Market lacks both the premium stall holders, and the critical mass of people to make it worthwhile. In a town full of artisans few bother to participate because, it seems, so few people come and buy. The people who do come come to have coffee at their favourite cafe, perhaps buy bread, and recently, vegetables, but it's limited size, and predictability, and the very few people who do come make the Thames Market a marginal exercise. Nothing wrong with the idea; it's the numbers that kill it. Yes there will be tourists, and they come and look, and it's all very quaint, but as markets go the Thames Market is small potatoes. Blocking off the main street may sound attractive but the street is not wide or flat enough. The closure will effectively kill the Saturday trading of the Grahamstown Shops because this is a place where no one walks, and the nearest car parks are likely to be full. Remember there is a Funeral Chapel and a Church within 500m of the market, and Saturdays are great days for Funerals. Closing the main street will affect ALL the other main street retailers because driving down Queen Street, or Mackay Street bypasses the 'drop in' business, because "we'll come back some other time" is too easy.

The obvious location would have been the old Placemakers site, or Danby field, the Council & Library car park, or round the Civic Centre. Bella Street from the corner to the Milk Depot, and if you're going to close a street, Sealy Street. That old railway station has a lot of land around it. Pollen Street is longer than the campaigns of Genghis Khan and that's the problem; a market at one end is no good to anyone. Saturday traffic is down because the other centres all have supermarkets, and the people who come to visit are backpackers, camper-vanners, and fisho's. The market stall people say Morrinsville, Pokeno, Paeroa, and other places are worth the effort. Thames is nice to visit, but not profitable. It may be that the market has run it's course, and if this is one of the "landmarks" of Thames we really are in trouble.

As a privately owned and operated business, having the TCB spend money revamping the market is questionable.

It may be time to call it a day.

December 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Jeffares

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