A compromise solution has been suggested to end the controversy that threatens to overwhelm Tauranga City Council's decision to convert Mount Maunganui Shopping Centre's Phoenix Carpark into a chill-out zone for shoppers
"Surely they don't need all the area for recreation. Half and half would be a good idea," Lance Gracie suggested.
He was approached by the Bay of Plenty Times for his opinion on the plan that would lose 55 central carparks and replace them with 58 additional parks further afield in Nikau Cres, Prince Ave and Oceanview Rd, plus 12 new parks in the May St carpark.
Surely they don't need all the area for recreation. Half and half would be a good idea.
Mr Gracie, who works in Mount Maunganui, said the recreational area was a good idea but the carparks were still needed, particularly for local people who needed convenient parking to pop into a shop.
"There are days when you can't find a park."
Ex-Tauranga resident Mark Petersen who is visiting from Perth said the Phoenix Carpark was a good go-to spot to find a park.
While the passive area for shoppers sounded good in theory, he said parking was very limited in Mount Maunganui. "Parking is at a premium."
We need these carparks, otherwise retailers will lose shoppers to Bayfair.
A regular shopper in the area, Jill Harper, said most people drove to Mount Maunganui to shop, with few of Tauranga's growing ranks of retirees opting to cycle everywhere.
"We need these carparks, otherwise retailers will lose shoppers to Bayfair."
Mount/Papamoa Ward councillor Leanne Brown said she felt a little conflicted about commenting because, before she was elected, she was the Mount Mainstreet manager who submitted to the council in support of the redevelopment.
She said she understood how retailers would be in panic mode at this time of the year, but she also knew what the Phoenix Carpark was like for the rest of the year. "It is a very under-utilised piece of land."
Cr Brown said the project was two and a-half years down the track and, although the horse had bolted, she said there was still an opportunity to alter the decision.
For instance if the overwhelming community view was to retain some carparks, then that was what should happen.
Tauranga councillor Rick Curach wanted further discussions with Mount Mainstreet before the council went any further with the project. "We need to get in front of retailers and see where we are at."
He was responding to Mainstreet chairwoman Jane Debenham's comments earlier this week that the Phoenix Carpark should stay.
The Bayfair councillor said that at the end of the day it came back to the issue of not being able to find a carpark in the shopping centre versus having a nice place to sit and relax.
Parking issues were not confined to the height of the summer, he said.