A round-up of Hamilton City Council draft long-term plan

Deliberations on the council's draft long-term plan included more than just a rates rise. There ware also a series of key votes on proposed community infrastructure projects. Here's a break-down on what you need to know.

Hamilton Gardens

The Hamilton Gardens Development Trust is set to play a pivotal role in the enhancement of the city's showpiece attraction over the next decade.

Councillors voted 9 to 3 in favour of having the trust present a proposal on how to fast-track development of the site, completing a further 17 gardens in 10 years.

The trust has said it will fundraise $15 million to help pay for the development.

Council, in turn, will use a targeted rate over 10 years to raise $10m.

The targeted rate will be set at $10 a year for all ratepayers, increasing by $1 a year, reaching $19 in 2028.

In addition, the council is aiming to raise $50,000 a year from on-site donations.

The issue of charging international visitors an entry fee to the gardens has been put on the back-burner, with the council opting to seek further advice. 

Macpherson said work on the Hamilton Gardens began 40 years ago and it wasn't unreasonable to want the site completed within 50 years.

Hamilton Gardens would stay in the council's ownership but the trust would guide the site's strategic direction and fundraising programme.

O'Leary, together with councillors Southgate and Henry, opposed the move.

O'Leary said she wasn't convinced significant changes to the gardens model was warranted.

Garden Place
A major rework of Garden Place is off the books, with councillors canning a proposed $3.95m redevelopment.

Instead councillors voted 10 to three to spend $100,000 a year, for three years, to allow the Hamilton Central Business Association to help "activate" the site.

O'Leary said residents strongly opposed any significant development of Garden Place.

"Activation, getting people into these spaces, works, and that's what we need. If we were to spend $3.9m on doing up Garden Place, in five years' time it would look tired and we'd still be wondering why people weren't there."

King supported the move but said Garden Place was "broke". Although it was the heart of the city, people weren't attracted to Garden Place to have lunch or dinner.

"It's got very little that would actually draw the people, with money to spend, to be there. It fact it draws the opposite," he said.

The issue of charging international visitors an entry fee to the Hamilton Gardens has been put on the back-burner for now.
The issue of charging international visitors an entry fee to the Hamilton Gardens has been put on the back-burner for now.
Proposed Central City Park

The council has scaled back its plans for a central city park, instead opting to set aside $7m to purchase three strategic properties between Victoria on the River and Embassy Park.

The council will not reveal which properties it hopes to purchase but intends to negotiate the deals in 2018/19.

Councillor Geoff Taylor pitched the idea, saying the idea is to limit the council's spending for now to the purchase of the three properties.

The intention is for the council to hold the properties until it is ready to progress the central city park plan.

"This is our chance for Victoria Street to face the river. If we let this chance go, you'll end up with a McDonald's there," Taylor said.

"This is a chance to future-proof those properties."

Councillors O'Leary, Southgate, Henry and James Casson​ opposed the move.

Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park

Councillors voted 12 to one to spend $710,000 in 2018/19 on initiatives designed to open up the 60-hectare restoration project to the public.

Proposed projects include a loop track, viewing platforms, signs and fences, and toilets.

Councillor Mark Bunting said toilets were a key consideration.

"I have never set foot on Waiwhakareke. I don't get it but a lot of people do. It's as simple as this for me: they don't have a place to poop and I would like to provide that for them," he said.

Councillor Garry Mallett opposed the spend, saying the council's priorities should be on supporting the city's residents and ratepayers.

Playgrounds

The council has committed itself to spending $5.5m on building new or upgrading existing playgrounds across the city.

However, now included in the mix is the potential to fund the develop of skate parks.

Council staff will also seek funding from the private sector.

O'Leary said having free family activities was important to Hamilton residents.

Destination playgrounds provided the city with different play spaces. The Claudelands destination playground, for example, catered for children with disabilities and accessibility issues, she said.

Gallagher said it was important the council provided a mix of playground types.

Neighbourhood playgrounds often brought families together and were important to households which may not have access to a car, he said.

Playgrounds across the city will get $5.5 million.
Playgrounds across the city will get $5.5 million.
Hamilton Zoo

Hamilton Zoo's tired facade is set for a revamp with the council agreeing to spent $2.2m over the next three years on a new shared entry precinct for the zoo and the Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park.

Staff will be tasked with finding an additional $3m from external backers to help fund the development.

Councillors also voted 10 to 3 to spend $350,000 on a new interactive lemur walk-through.

Councillor Ryan Hamilton said improvements would help take the attraction from a country zoo to a commercial zoo.

The zoo had the potential to add to Hamilton's visitor experience and keep people in the city longer, Hamilton said.

Importantly, creating a stronger link between the zoo and Waiwhakareke will enable the council to better target conservation funding, he said. 

Sports park drainage improvements, libraries

The council will spend $3m on capital works improving the drainage of 12 city sports fields across six parks: Galloway, Mahoe, Gower, Resthills, Ashurst and Elliot.

The funding will also be used to enhance irrigation systems at the sites over two years, starting in 2019/20.

Taylor said many city sports clubs were affected by poor draining fields and were losing playing days as a result.

Councillors also voted to spend $200,000 improving the front area and customer service areas of the central city library in Garden Place.

Southgate said libraries were much-loved city assets but, at the moment, the central city library was uninviting and unengaging.

"That's not good enough in my view and we can make it so much better. We can have people walk past our central library enjoying what's going on inside and people inside the library enjoying what's going on outside," she said.


From Stuff.co.nz