Chair, Waitemata Local Board, Shale Chambers’ April Ponsonby News column 

Whilst speculation on who may be contesting the upcoming local elections continues, and a declared local candidate is left to make stuff up with wild non-factual populist statements about others’ performance, those currently responsible for the daily business of meeting community expectations of their local government at the local level continues. This last month the local board has been busy with 2016/17 Annual Plan consultations. Thanks to all those who attended several residents and business’ group co-hosted meetings over the last month. We are blessed with such active and engaged groups in our area.

In 2016/17 we plan to invest $11m to renew and develop assets in Waitemata and $23 million to maintain and operate these assets. We are also continuing our business as usual such as supporting local groups to run their activities through the events and grants programmes, funding arts and community development programmes and delivering local restoration and environmental projects.

Last year’s supported projects proceed apace. Weona-Westmere Coastal Walkway, stage two has now commenced, which includes the walkway infrastructure such as boardwalks, final path surfacing, interpretation and planting.  Detailed design of stage 2 of the Myers Park redevelopment is now complete and the tender is due to go out shortly, with physical works now scheduled to occur in the second half of 2016, allowing the Pop Up Globe Theatre to complete its successful season.

Consultation was recently completed on the proposed concept designs for the redeveloped Ellen Melville Centre community hub and upgraded Freyberg Square, with construction due to commence in August 2016. We have $4m available for the Newmarket Laneways streetscape improvements project.  Concept designs are currently being developed for 3 identified areas, Teed Street, Kent Street and York Street, and we will then be able to make an informed decision on which streetscape improvement can be undertaken within the available budget.

We have allocated funding to complete the Greenways Route through Grey Lynn Park.  This will align with a separate Auckland Transport project to connect to Cox’s Bay Reserve. We have also just recently undertaken consultation on a proposal to improve the pedestrian experience along Ponsonby Road; a priority action identified in the 2014 Ponsonby Road Plan.

This year the Local Board has identified several priorities. Following the recent launch of Waitemata’s Low Carbon Action Plan we have allocated increased spend on low carbon initiatives, as well as looking at the feasibility of installing a photovoltaics system at Grey Lynn Community Centre to convert solar energy into direct current electricity.

We are keen to leverage from existing renewal programmes in our local parks and open spaces.  Last year we completed a number of park development plans, which has provided us with a very strong framework to identify the priority projects.  Western Park’s paths, lighting and playground and the Grey Lynn Park southern playground are to be prioritised this year.

The POP Programme created sensory garden at Studio One Toi Tu is proposed to have the creation of seating space and an entrance sign.

Other changes that we are proposing include increasing the budget for the now annual Myers Park Medley event, to allow us to deliver an even better community focussed event. The Board is also proposing to deliver a new pathway through the Symonds Street Cemetery to connect K Road to Grafton Cycleway, as well as completing the installation of new interpretation and wayfinding signage, and a maintenance budget to maintain headstones.

We wish to investigate the feasibility of installation of a solar heating solution at Parnell Baths.  This could possibly extend the pools opening hours or make the start and end of the season more desirable to users.

We also intend to continue supporting with increased budget community-led development and place making projects such as the work that is currently being undertaken to create an open space design at 254 Ponsonby Road and the development of a bicycle pump track at Grey Lynn Park.

A key role of the local board is to advocate for initiatives that the local board may not have decision making responsibilities for. Some of the key areas for this area include the continued roll out of the Residential Parking Zone Scheme – with Ponsonby Road being next.

In collaboration with Albert Eden and Puketapapa, we are to see one or more sites in the central area to provide drop-off locations for local residents, for a larger Community Recycling Centre processing site to be located in Maungakiekie-Tamaki.

Your feedback on these issues will be coming to the local board this month, with final decisions in June. As a local board we are very proud of progress being made for the community, and look forward to continuing to work with our local councillor, Mike Lee in service to you this year.

Contact me: shale.chambers@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz

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