Waikato River plans for promenades and signage adopted

By Gary Farrow

Artists concept of the promenade leading from the Victoria on the River site to Embassy Park via the bank of the Waikato River. Image / Hamilton City Council
Artists concept of the promenade leading from the Victoria on the River site to Embassy Park via the bank of the Waikato River. Image / Hamilton City Council

New promenades along the Waikato River in Hamilton have been given the go ahead.

Three of the proposed River Plan projects will be adopted, it was decided following a debate by Hamilton City Council's community and services committee on Tuesday.

The committee voted in favour of further consideration of a new riverside promenade between Embassy Park and Victoria on the River, the latter of which is currently being developed at the river end of Collingwood St.

That proposed promenade will be planned by the council in consultation with nearby property owners.

A promenade was also agreed between Waikato Museum and Grantham St, as well as wayfinding signs involving plinths, location markers and entry points to paths and attractions on the Waikato River's edge.

However, the decision to move forward with these proposals was made only after a rigorous, heavily contested debate that took place over two hours.

Councillors Dave Macpherson, Garry Mallett, James Casson and mayor Andrew King voted against the motion.

"The process that was put up to us three or four months ago was not to have an ongoing task force, ongoing small group, which was self-described by the chair, deputy mayor Martin Gallagher, which was then going to put up a whole lot more projects costed that would come back to council in order to secure Don Lee trust money," he said.

"That was not the concept that was sold to us then."

King said there was effectively no financial plan behind the projects proposed.

With the committee having agreed earlier in the day to pledge $15 million to the Hamilton Zoo Master Plan, King was particularly wary of that fact.

He said Hamilton City Council was already borrowing $4m a year to maintain existing public services, so it could not afford to invest in the proposed river projects, and this required attention.

"Or else we'll just keep on spending, keep on putting out glossy pamphlets, keep on putting out ideas, and we end up spending another billion dollars. How long can the city live on unfulfilled dreams?" he asked.

Councillor Angela O'Leary provided a rebuttal to Macpherson's earlier claims that the River Plan task force - of which she is a part - came up with requests and ideas that were not forecast.

"I'm just looking at the terms of reference here and the task force is on point with that, and we were charged with coming up with projects for the annual plan - the $1.25m," she said.

She said the task force were also asked to provide direction looking forward for the 10-Year Plan projects and secure Momentum Waikato funding and external funding for the future.

Deputy mayor Gallagher, also on the River Plan task force, concluded the argument.
"I've made some former friends and some new best friends in this debate. Very interesting," he said.

"I hope this council will be remembered as a council that contributed to revitalising and developing our wonderful CBD and waterfront precinct along th entirety of the Waikato River.

"What is the kind of place that people want to live in, invest their money, and live and work and play in et cetera?

"That is a city that has a vitality about it, and I'm going to argue that the River Plan is going to be very much a part of that vitality," he said.

- Hamilton News

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