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Another Whitianga Boondoogle

The latest Whitianga/McLean boondoggle that is about to be foisted on our rate-payers relates to the creation of a multi-million dollar cemetery.  See the latest Press Release that soothingly lulls District ratepayers into acceptance of this totally unnecessary facility. 

Ferry Landing is running of space – probably in about a  another two years, and Council has been sucked into the purchase of a totally unsuitable piece of land on SH25 overlooking Mercury Bay. The land itself is unsuitable by dint of access alone, but there are a number of other factors that should be taken into account.

The proposed site was first offered to the council by a former councillor Charlie Adams through then Board Chair Murray McLean. Members of the then Council inspected the land in 2010 and it was immediately obvious that access would be a headache – made worse by NZTA ruling that the top of the hill (off SH25) was not a goer and that council would have to put a slip lane in lower down at considerable cost – part of which is now being announced as imminent.

But wait, there is worse – there are only approximately 10 Whitianga burials in each calendar year. In the same manner that a grossly over-provided Sports-complex was foisted on the population, so is now about to happen in regard to the provision of a cemetery costing  millions. Because of the manner in which the Ten Year Plan has been constructed, it will be a cost against the whole district when there is plenty of capacity at other facilities – specifically Tairua just down the road, or Totara.

McLean argued that Whitianga had to have its own facility – never mind the cost, and through his efforts Council agreed at the TYP stage to exempt his proposed Whitianga cemetery from the new local charging policy. Remember that cemeteries have always been a District charge, but have fallen to local under the new policy, with this exception.

Here is the rub – burials are on the wane, and cremations are the most preferred method of disposing of the dead – about 70% of all District disposals currently and rising – up from 60% just two years ago – and is driven by cost. The financial case presented to Council was of dubious value because it was based on the 20 year-old per plot costs of developing the Totara Cemetery at Thames - around $300 per plot. At the same time New Plymouth District Council was looking at developing a cemetery close to New Plymouth on flat ground and they were looking at $750 per plot. Sp expect whatever projections are put in front of Council to rapidly escalate in the same manner as every other Whitianga project. 

Further, the geo-tech reports were based on test holes at random across the face of the slope – not a satisfactory manner to undertake such tests for a number of reasons that need not be explored here. Suffice to say that putting a cemetery on the side of a hill is crazy in this day and age - it will have to be benched, and will be difficult for people to walk around, let alone provide wheel-chair access. Council had the ability to purchase land on a public works order and should have obtained some flat land in and around the Bay IF it was considered necessary to have a local facility, and that is highly questionable.

The press release talks about having capacity for 150 years – what balderdash! Who on earth will be burying people in 150 years? The world is rapidly changing the way they treat the dead – and burying is the least cost effective method. The trend towards cremation, and other more exotic methods is inexorable.  

This is another ‘McLean folly' foisted on District rate-payers, and it is time our Council took stock and provided resistance to his mad-cap schemes based on grandiose visions of Whitianga as a capital city of some yet to be defined geographical entity. It is another unnecessary, impractical, extravagant, and emotionally driven project, and it is close to being beyond stopping as it takes on a life of its own, if you will forgive the pun.





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Reader Comments (2)

you are kidding me Bill - an early April Fool's joke surely?
when will this Council ever learn?
One thing for sure Leach won't be able to ignore this exercise in futility - he will have to drive past it each week.
made a few enquiries amongst the learned here at the Bay and they seem to think we have been shafted yet again- a dag end of a subdivision- on a side of a hill no less-right next to the S.H. - should be a nice quite resting place for our ratepayers- not.
Where does McLean get these flashes of 'thinking big' - hang over from his days in Parliament?
interesting what you say Bill about this not being a local ratepayers deal but a District wide cost - funny how when the rubber meets the road they have a rethink - though as a M. Bay ratepayer I am happy that all other TCDC ratepayers will have to pay .
Surely they are not serious that there is only on average 10 burials a year in the Bay - Council must have this wrong- otherwise why would you spend big bucks on such a project?
Somebody was telling me the latest caper for burials are 'limited tenure' graves - where the family has the use of a plot for say 35 years [ apparently 5 coffins to a plot] - then the coffins are removed - the bones placed in an ossarry, coffins burn't and bingo the plot is available for another 5 families -- and apparently Jacko reckons this is how countries like Greece, Netherlands etc get around restricted land use practise's
Oh well may the current councillors consciences rest in peace-for we will be paying for their folly for many a year to come along with McLean Stadium

March 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterIrate Ratepayer

OMG Bill here we go again. You should look into the debacle happening with the old Whitianga Fire Station. It also reeks of another McLean / Mercury Bay CB stuff up.....the figures are quite astounding. No wonder the Information Centre bolted from the idea.

March 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRatepayer2

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