Once again the community will be locked out from using the building, as it has been for the last forty years with a local club firmly ensconced in it. WLB has even preempted the outcome of their own Hearings Panel by calling for ‘expressions of interest’ from groups wanting a lease over the building; before they’ve heard public submissions and made a decision on the Reserve status itself!
I predicted this would happen in a blog two years ago, once it became clear that the second WLB was intent on making the OBC the de facto Green Party HQ by leasing the building to the Waiheke Resources Trust. The building was extensively refurbished by the first Waiheke Local Board, at a cost to ratepayers of over $300,000 so it could be available to the whole community. This will be such a sad outcome for Waiheke as pointed out in an excellent submission to the Hearings Panel made yesterday by the Friends of Alison Park.
Friends of Alison Park.
We have a vision that is way beyond the question ‘to lease or not to lease’. In 40 years we could have here a fabulous Parkland with a vibrant community centred life and attractions like other famous Parks in NZ. The Park is already a Recreation Reserve, available to the community as whole to use value and enhance. It does not need fiddly administrative adjustments imposed that restrict its development as a Centre of Community excellence.
After consultation with hundreds of Waiheke people in many Community groups we recommend that the current Recreation Reserve status of the Park remain, and that no further leases be given over the building, as already provided in the Alison Park Management Plan. There is no impediment to immediate wide community use in the current Recreation Reserve status of the Park and its building.
In reading the fine print in the feedback consultation submissions it is clear that at least a third of the people who supported changing the park status and leasing the building to a single primary group also want to maintain the recreation reserve status and immediate direct access of the wider community to the building. They took an implication in the feedback forms that wide community use is not currently available. But it is already available. The only reason for changing the classification is to void the requirement in the Reserve Management Plan that no new or additional leases be granted. The feedback forms give an accurate picture of the wishes of the community if the ‘support’ and ‘oppose’ count is re- interpreted on what has been said in the fine print of each submission.
The reason the park has never been valued and creatively enhanced is that the Bowling Club had a lease over the building and greens and the community assumed that the park was theirs as well. The building, as the gathering point with the facilities for food, meeting and rest rooms was not publically available. To now repeat that situation will repeat the same outcome. The core purpose of both building and Park are one thing. Not two separate things.
Both croquet and development of many new passive re-creation facilities, as outlined in the excellent Park Development Plan presented by Annette Campion’s team, are consistent with the core purpose of the Park and its home base, the building. The Plan is largely based on the community consultation efforts of Friends of Alison Park who do not want to own or run the building. They want to create a living vibrant community of people who are active in the development of the park for the benefit of the whole community. Ownership belongs to the vision and action, not to any one community group whose core purpose is different from the Park and its life.
As a Recreation Reserve under Council Property centralized booking system everyone can book and use the building on an equal footing. The long term vision for the whole property can be organically advanced by the initiative and community collaboration of residents. The access and management will not be complicated and clouded by ownership privilege. There will be three spaces in the building available for hire, not one. Everyone can be involved in their park and the purposeful creation of a vibrant community of people who are active in its long term life for the Island.
Let us not limit the future aspirations for this strategic and potentially beautiful community centre. Premature decisions may constrain the spontaneous enthusiasm of the people who have spoken with passion, experience and vision about its place in their lives and the future life of the whole island. The weight of public opinion supports keeping the Park as a Recreation Reserve in both name and nature.
3.3.16. Friends of Alison Park.