John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Hub will doom Historic Village - ex-official

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Proposed site for new community building at the Historic Village.
Proposed site for new community building at the Historic Village.

The end of the Historic Village as a community attraction has been predicted by former city councillor Hylton Rhodes if the planned $10 million community hub goes ahead on the village grounds.

Mr Rhodes and Shaun Belcher spoke in opposition to the proposal for the Tauranga City Council to sell land at the top of the village to the Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust (TECT).

There will be no more jazz festival, vintage car show and perhaps no more Historic Village.
Hylton Rhodes

TECT wants to erect a building to house community organisations in a fit-for-purpose administration facility. It would also partly develop adjoining green space for communal village use.

The two men backed their presentations to the council this week with a video of the village filmed in the days when it doubled as the city's museum. It showed the village as a thriving attraction and living tribute to Tauranga's past, with features such as a smithy, a steam train and stage coach.

Mr Belcher argued that the development of a community hub would be detrimental to the village. The council should instead take advantage of the huge potential of the site's original purpose.

Read more: Tauranga Historic Village racks up $1m bill

Mr Rhodes said the village was forever being revamped and it had a run up a big debt.
"It was once thriving and profitable and could be made that way again," he said.

The men highlighted how the space proposed for the community hub was part of the area used for the jazz festival, concerts and shows.

"There will be no more jazz festival, vintage car show and perhaps no more Historic Village," Mr Rhodes said.

He said it was another financial disaster lumbered on the council and it was not TECT's job to fund its own project, claiming it was beyond their charter.

"There has been no feasibility study and yet you vote on it next week."

He urged the council to stick with the status quo until there had been wide-spread discussion and debate.

Councillor Rick Curach said the decision on the community hub had been deferred by the council to a later date.

He said the area proposed to be developed for a communal green space was boggy and TECT had offered to drain it. Mr Rhodes responded that people had sat on the grass in previous jazz festivals.

Councillor Catherine Stewart asked whether it was not a better compromise to improve the drainage and have a more defined space.

Mr Rhodes said the hub would take up a huge space compared with other village buildings and be very dominant.

He said the community had been told for years that the village was self-sustaining but it now had a $1 million debt.

The village should be rejuvenated to the magnificent thing it once was, Mr Rhodes said

- Bay of Plenty Times

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