Allison is a digital reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times

Centre's redevelopment drawing ideas

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Owner of The Dry Dock Cafe Sandra Johnson thinks Tauranga city centre needs a change. Photo/George Novak
Owner of The Dry Dock Cafe Sandra Johnson thinks Tauranga city centre needs a change. Photo/George Novak

A flood of opinions is swirling around the redevelopment of Tauranga's civic centre.

This week, Tauranga City Council staff were at Red Square seeking feedback from the public on a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to create a new civic centre.

One hundred residents gave feedback, adding to the growing number of responses the council has collected from the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary clubs, and at public consultations held at shopping areas all over the city and during orientation week at the polytechnic.

Project sponsor and general manager of city transformation Jaine Lovell-Gadd said they had talked to more than 2000 people so far.

"People are saying, 'Yes, it would be nice to change the civic heart.' They've said attracting people is the secret to a successful city."

She said main themes so far had been public art, music, people living in the city, events, and better access to the waterfront.

Read more: Potential future for Tauranga CBD

"People have said there is room for improvement. People have been drawing on what they see in other cities on what could be better. Quite a few are calling for more pedestrian streets," she said.

The Civic Space Options project has attracted a wide range of ideas from residents and business owners, surveyed by the Bay of Plenty Times.

The Dry Dock Caf co-owner Sandra Johnson said Tauranga city centre was looking "sad".

"This is the heart of our city and we need to respect that and turn it into one. It's all over the place at the moment."

She thought the recent vision of a high-powered Tauranga group included some fantastic ideas, especially the flowing pedestrian-friendly heart between Cameron Rd and the waterfront.

The bird's-eye view plan of the city centre generated so much interest among city councillors that they had a two-hour session with the authors.

"We need change, it needs to be pedestrian-friendly so our children can run around and parents not be worried," Ms Johnson said.

Ms Johnson said Tauranga needed a museum and the proposal to terrace it over the railway line on Dive Cres up to the gardens would make great use of the environment.

Look at Wellington, they have the best waterfront. We should do something like them.
Sandra Johnson, owner of Dry Dock Cafe

As for the waterfront, she said it was a beautiful place and needed to be better utilised. The proposal's vision to include a kayak centre, a safe area for swimming and a rebuilt Coronation Pier resonated with her.

"Look at Wellington, they have the best waterfront. We should do something like them. Even Hamilton has a kayak centre."

Read more: CBD revamp suggestions fly in

In contrast, Wharf St Eatery owner Pablo Cardenas said he wanted the parking back on Wharf St and if the whole area was pedestrianised it would "kill" the area.

"For me, it's not working. My customer numbers have gone down since they closed off Wharf St."

Wharf St Eatery owner Pablo Cardenas wants parking back. Photo/George Novak
Wharf St Eatery owner Pablo Cardenas wants parking back. Photo/George Novak

Mr Cardenas said his restaurant has had to scale down and only opens three nights a week for dinner because there was no parking nearby for patrons.

"Even the delivery guys have nowhere to park," he said.

Brian Smythe, manager of Smiths Motorcycle Mad, said to pedestrianise downtown would close things off at a time when traffic flow was already bad enough.

Cabbages and Kings manager Val Auld took a positive stance, saying "we have a very beautiful city and we should be thankful for it".

The homeware store moved to a new location on Devonport Rd three weeks ago and Ms Auld said it had been "really busy" and "vibrant". As the city grew, there would naturally be growing pains, she said.

The next step in the Civic Space Options project is gathering facts and figures for the council to explore the wider economic benefits, affordability and funding options.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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