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Wednesday
Oct142015

'Great Walks' - Yeah, Right!

The MWH Traffic, Parking & Maintenance Assessment presented to TCDC some time ago, and released this week constitutes a condemnation of TCDC processes that have been put in place since the advent of this Council.

The willingness of Leach and his cohort to foist badly researched projects – allegedly with great economic benefit, on to a mostly bemused and misinformed population who in the main have know nothing of what is going on until well down the implementation route.

I need not reiterate the extent of these projects and the varying levels of vanity and legacy that have been involved – I have outlined this on many occasions in posts on this blog – simply enter the name of the project into the index to get a full catalogue.

Readers will be well aware of recent events in regard to the Great Walks (Leach’s nomenclature!) that are under way radiating from Hahei, and the sudden willingness to listen to the concerns and complaints regarding non-consultation that have been brought on by Hahei residents through their Residents Association. Requests to consult before decisions were made affecting the interests of Hahei residents surrounding parking issues in particular, but traffic in general have been brushed aside..

All this culminated in a recent spectacular reversal in attitudes and willingness to talk. But the walkway development has a momentum all of its own by this stage, and fundraising and planning have gone on regardless. The compilation of an excellent Lottery Board Application was the culmination of the efforts to put the plan into effect.

What has now, and only now become clear is that the fundamental and critical research work necessary to ensure the success of the plan had simply not been undertaken – a classic case of the ‘cart before the horse.’ But this had not prevented the employment of numbers of high priced staff to undertake the actual project, and the total involvement of the Economic Development Committee in overseeing the Council role.

In fact it was the only bright light on the EDC agenda that it could point to and say – “What clever blokes are we!” Everything on Leach’s list has looked decidedly shaky, or else like the Coromandel Harbour development, hidden behind ‘Public Excluded.’

Every rate-payer should be concerned over the nub of this Traffic Report that clearly indicates that traffic studies  done in the past have been wholly inadequate for a project of this scale, and are useless for the purpose of designing appropriate parking and traffic infrastructure – both at Hahei itself, and at the satellite area of Lees and Pa Roads.

This is salient part of the Executive Summary of the Report is thus:

“The recommendations outlined within this report are based upon a limited supply of parking and traffic data, particularly for the peak summer period and for the communities of Ferry Landing and Hot Water Beach.It is therefore recommended that the following studies are undertaken as a means of refining and validating the recommendations of this report:

1. PeakSummerTraffic and Parking Study. A detailed study, inclusive of traffic and parking surveys, should be undertaken during the next (2015/2016) peak summer season for each of the key communities across the region. The findings of the study should be used for:

a.Updating the traffic model and verifying the conclusions of this report.

b.Identifying what, if any, additional facilities are required to accommodate future growth that will occur as a result of the Great Walks project (particularly for Hot Water Beach).

c. As a basis for future parking and traffic monitoring.

2. Hahei and Hot Water Beach Parking Strategy. The traffic and parking study should inform a parking strategy for Hahei and Hot Water Beach. The strategy should identify appropriate short term and long term measures which are informed by stakeholder consultation and peak summer time traffic and parking surveys. The strategy should also onsider scenarios with and without the impact of the Great Walks Project.

3. Signage Strategy.  An appropriate signage strategy should be developed for the area, as a means of informing any future traffic and parking strategy.

4. On-going monitoring. Traffic and parking should be monitored on an annual basis for at least the next five years as a means of understanding the success of any mitigation measures which are introduced. Furthermore, it is recommended that the permanent track counters are placed at appropriate locations along the Great Walk as a means of monitoring utilisation, and to develop an understanding of which car parks act as the most popular start/finish locations.”

The Hahei Rate-payers have been saying all along that there had been inadequate investigation and planning for parking and traffic, but staff had relied on so-called consultation with a compliant group of hand-picked people who they chose to describe a ‘stakeholders.’ This group soon realised that they were being used, and deferred to the wider and more representative Residents & Ratepayers Association.

In other words, despite the length of time since the genesis of this project, and “high-level” group of people employed to plan it, the fact that no professional traffic study has been undertaken leaves one gasping. What has been done is not worth the paper it is written on for planning purposes, and there must be a high level of embarrassment as a result of the production of this Report. 

The net result is that it has now been determined that all construction and work must stop until this necessary research has been conducted in a professional manner over the 2015/16 holiday period. The results then need to be analysed in order for presumably the MWH consultancy to be able to give an appropriate tick to the Great Walk plans as they relate to traffic congestion and parking.

This untenable state of affairs has occurred long after Council has employed high priced staff to undertake the track building work, and obtained several major Lottery Board and Waikato Trust allocations that must now surely be at risk as a result of this turn of events. Certainly, the delayed $1m that is expected from the June 2016 Lottery allocations will be at risk if only because of the lack of pre-requisite progress.

The whole situation is redolent of the totally inadequate and unprofessional manner in which project planning has been undertaken generally by our Council. The fact that there has been a deliberate attempt to hide the true situation through the production of another anodyne press release yesterday should not be overlooked by concerned rate-payers who have suffered the indignity of the Whitianga Sports Park and Hauraki Rail Trail debacles.

It is nothing short of a disgrace, and it will be interesting to hear just how the EDC plan to deal with the situation at their 10 November meeting, but don’t expect self-incrimination – they are far too clever for that.

 

 

 

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