by Geoffrey Churchman

Eva and I met for coffee with Richard Mansell, the newly elected Chair of the Waikanae Community Board, to talk about things that are wanted for the town in this coming triennium.

With none of the 4 members who were elected to the WCB in 2019 there now — 3 resigned during the triennium and James Westbury did not seek relection — the board members are all recent/new. Fortunately, Cr Nigel Wilson has replaced Cr Prvanov as the Council ex-officio appointee to the board.

We spoke about the main things that Waikanae people will be looking for that members will be able to influence decisions about. Probably the biggest issue of all — the ever-worsening traffic congestion at the Elizabeth Street/Main Road level crossing — is one that has clearly been put in the ‘too hard basket’ by the NZTA and KCDC and it’s unlikely that anything will be done about it in the forseeable future.

Eva and I asked: The big issue from the last triennium remains the lack of an adequate library to replace what was closed in December 2018. What is happening? In early 2020 this report [see below] stated the process that it would have.  Three years later there is still no decision about where the library will be sited and there are three committees: a governance group, a management group and a focus group. 

Richard: The groups would more accurately be the internal council managers (management) the council and their technical advisors like architects, library specialists and town centre design (governance is not quite the right word) and the focus group. They have come up with a variety of options – from replacing the existing/old library with the same, up to trying to predict what the library of the future is and what size etc it would need to be for the predicted growth of the community. The price range is from relatively modest to huge. I think they intend to consult on this sort of basis. Sort of do you want a library with all sorts of bells and whistles and are you prepared to pay for that or do you want something that might not meet expectations but is affordable.

Pack and stack housing: the new provisions to allow this are a concern with their potential impact on not only visual impact and congestion but infrastructure needs.  Scrutiny of and opposition to new developer projects is essential. [It now seems the Vale complex proposal for Omahi St never got consent, not because the council said no but because the developer never applied for it. Realtors Tommys must have found that out and withdrew their involvement.]

This is largely being driven by central government and KCDC have to make the adjustments to the district plan to allow for it. And provide the infrastructure to allow for it. You can blame the Labour government for this. I am pretty sure Vale would be allowed as of right under the new district plan. Up to 6 storeys.

Waikanae Park, Otaraua Park — what will happen in regard to new facilities, amenities? 

There is money in the long term plan for Waikanae park in the next year or two. The WCB are trying to get some discussion with the parks people about what this might be. Up until late last year the parks department was severely understaffed and no progress was made. I think they are now playing catch up but we will keep asking.

Waikanae Beach Community Hall — replacement or reno? There’s still nothing firm after 3 years.

The existing hall is a ‘dog’ and potentially an earthquake-prone building. In my opinion it should be demolished, the land sold and the money from the sale used to build something on one of the reserves at the beach. While the building process is undertaken KCDC could rent space from some of the many hall owners for any users who are put out. I am thinking of the likes of the golf club building, tennis club, church halls, bowls club. This may be my developer background, not appreciating the workings of the KCDC.

Will lobbying continue for a full interchange for PekaPeka on/off the Expressway?  We gather Tonchi Begovich is against it. 

I think Tonchi feels this horse has bolted. The time to do the interchange was when the road was built. Unfortunately the road was first proposed in the fortress Kapiti days when an interchange at Peka Peka would mean development around that area. KCDC did not want that so the interchange was not pushed. I blame Dr Gail Fergusson.

What about reopening the Recycling Centre in Park Avenue that existed until August 2021? This is a hot issue for (member) Michelle Lewis. 

I will certainly support it. I think a lot of the anti-brigade [in the management] have gone including the former CEO. Jocelyn Prvanov is the chair of the greenie committee so this may pop up again.

Do you want any new powers for the community boards in addition to existing?

We don’t seem to have more powers. Hopefully the Mayor, coming from the Community Board background, might be more prepared to listen to them. I would just like us to be included in the development of ideas for our communities earlier and for us to lead any consultation with the community.

Will there be rotation of meeting venues rather than just the community centre as happened in the 2016-2019 triennium, but not since?

We are rotating this year: Waikanae Beach, Te Horo, and Reikorangi; alternating with the Community Hall. The staff we have now seem more than happy to do this when I asked them if they were ok with it.