The vision for the island was that Oneroa would be the tourist destination while Ostend, centrally placed in the residential area of the island, would be the hub of commercial and industrial activity. This vision could never be fully realised while there was a gaping hole in the middle of the village which has been the case for the twenty years I have lived in Ostend.
What was needed was an ‘anchor’ tenant that would provide the cornerstone of a revitalised village centre. This has come in the form of the new Countdown supermarket. It is the catalyst for change that the village has so desperately needed as it transforms the streetscape from a derelict ‘drive through’ to a destination.
What would have been a disaster for Ostend was the original idea of having the street frontage as a car park. This would have taken away the active street frontage that will give the ‘High St’ feel needed to make Ostend into a village. Now we will have five new retail outlets as well as the supermarket with frontages close to Belgium Street. Car parking is under cover and accessed from the western end of the Belgium St while service vehicles have their own entrance and exit at the eastern end. This allows for good division between pedestrians and cars. At the same there is a drop off and pick up area right outside close to the bus stop.
Thanks to input from the Chair of the first Waiheke Local Board, Faye Storer, there will be pedestrian access from Putiki Rd to Belgium St along the western edge of the development.
The first Waiheke Local Board has also added significantly to the Ostend streetscape in the form of the revamped Auckland Council Service Centre now open for business opposite the new supermarket. This was a project of the first Waiheke Local Board. It secured a million dollars for the upgrade to Council offices including bringing the Local Board offices closer to the street for better public access. It developed plans for the layout including flexibility to allow for more members of the public to attend Board meetings.
The only contribution to the upgrade from the second WLB has been the provision of cycle racks. Doubtless there will be the obligatory brass plaque with Paul Walden’s name on it to claim credit for the project, just as he did at the opening of the Waiheke Library, where the only input from this Board had been - wait for it - cycle racks. No members of the first WLB have been invited to the opening of the upgraded Council Service Centre despite this being their project.
With Belgium Street set to become a destination, the first Waiheke Local Board had made provision in their budget for public toilets in Ostend, but Walden canned the project to make way for such public necessities as his vanity project, the Bridle Bridge to Brigadoon
Despite the desperate attempts of Walden and the current WLB to take Waiheke back to some mythical 1980s past, the community stubbornly refuses to look backwards. Instead Waiheke is going ahead in leaps and bounds.
I can’t wait for the new supermarket to open. It heralds a brighter future for Ostend despite the negativity of Walden and his backward Board.
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