The Board’s PR team is now in overdrive in the local papers trying to give their failure a positive spin. In an un-credited article in this week’s Waiheke Marketplace, they even try to claim a ‘win’ of sorts by saying, “Waiheke has been included on the Council’s draft Aquatic Facilities Network Plan” and “Waiheke’s inclusion on the list will no doubt be as a result of some sustained pressure by many local people”.
What rubbish! Waiheke is in the draft Council’s Aquatic Facilities Network Plan because the last Waiheke Local Board referred it there – after paying for the first feasibility study to fast track that part of the process. The Aquatic Facilities Network Plan is the route to a community pool that this Board tried to circumvent by pursuing their own hare-brained scheme of dumping a pool on school land – to be paid for by us hapless ratepayers. What hasn’t been admitted is that Waiheke is now further than ever from getting a community swimming pool because of the actions of THIS Board.
Instead, the Board chose to focus on the schools and waste $25000 of ratepayers’ money by funding another feasibility study (undertaken by the schools themselves) on how a community pool might work on school land ie. Te Huruhi Primary and/or Waiheke High School. That was seven months ago, with a promise the report would be ready by April. It has never seen the light of day. So much for transparency and accountability.
The Waiheke community has been well and truly conned by the so-called ‘Essentially Waiheke’ team which is now in power. Ably assisted by the two local papers that ignored the previous Board’s successes, while blatantly supporting their own left-wing Green candidates and now cover for their inadequacies by lame reporting. Is it any wonder nobody trusts mainstream media
The Waiheke ratepayer has been bitten before with Council investing ratepayers’ money into Ministry of Education facilities (see blog on the Waiheke Recreation Centre, referred to locally as the ‘school gym’). They’ve learnt their lesson and will not do so again. Experience has shown that the community has been effectively shut out by the school from using the facility. Further, there are the on-going costs. We have all been picking up the tab for this white elephant for well over a decade. Rather than increase the school’s accountability and ensure value for ratepayers’ money, this Board has already increased the Recreation Centre’s funding from $75000 to $120,000 pa - and is planning to double it again, to over $200,000. Pure irresponsibility!
Big ticket Council projects like the new Waiheke Library and Artworks courtyard upgrade or a community swimming pool, take time, skill, political acumen and patience to make a reality (See blog for the history of the library). The first Local Board, under the guidance of Faye Storer, the former councillor and Board Chair who delivered the Waiheke Library, was going through all the necessary steps of a long process to bring the pool project to fruition. Providing SLIPs funding for Council’s own ‘Aquatic Facilities’ team to conduct a preliminary feasibility study and cost estimate for a community pool was the first step. This resulted in FIVE sites being deemed worthy of further exploration. Exploring those five possibilities was the necessary next step.
Because of this Board’s incompetence, inexperience and sheer spite the pool will never again be a priority for Council funding from the regional pot. Mayor Len Brown has just announced his intention for even more cutbacks to community facilities and precious time has been lost while the Waiheke Local Board tried to by-pass due process by wasting our ratepayers’ money on a Mickey Mouse attempt to pay back their supporters on the schools’ Boards of Trustees. Worse still many other projects were canned in a pathetic attempt to ‘bribe’ Council.
Thanks to these incompetents, you can kiss goodbye to EVER having a community swimming pool.