Bold new plan for Marine Parade

By DOUG LAING

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The Napier City Council has unveiled bold plans to develop Marine Parade into a family-friendly area, including an extended playground, a junior bike track and a pier.

Napier Mayor Barbara Arnott said the new waterfront development would "truly be a place for kids, and kids of all ages".

Part of the plans, unveiled today, could see the site of the closed Marineland become part of a new cable ski adventure tourism attraction.

The cable ski, which could be the first in New Zealand, is one of two projects needing private investment in a Big Picture plan aimed at restoring Marine Parade to its former glory and making it a "Kids' Capital" of the future.

The other proposal that will need public-private sector partnership is a Wave Garden, where people would surf the artificial wave on a watercourse at the northern end of the Parade, possibly taking over much of the present carpark.

Mrs Arnott concedes both are "wishlist" items, particularly the Wave Garden for which "innovative technology" is still being developed and which, she says, would cost millions and "might not happen".

Yet to speak with potential partners, the council won't be taking financial risks with such "flagship attractions" with Mrs Arnott stressing: "The Big Picture Plan is out there for the public and business to look at. It will be interesting to see what the public think."

The plan includes some items already approved or near to approval, with tenders to be called soon and work completed by early next year in a makeover for the foreshore area between the National Aquarium of New Zealand and SK8 Zone, except for Marineland.

"We'll see some changes to Marine Parade before Christmas," Mrs Arnott said.

A pond is expected to be included in a newly landscaped area for picnicking, play and recreation providing a link between the aquarium and a new junior bike track.

Further to the north will be an extension to the parade's children's playground, designed to cater for an age group up from the existing largely pre-schoolers' facilities.

A "next-step" project is a BMX Jump Park, expected to be included in the next annual plan and essentially an extension to SK8 Zone, which Mrs Arnott says has endured the fad-stage and seems more popular than when it first started to take shape 15-20 years ago at the Napier Skating Club rinks, a popular teen hangout of the 1960s.

The only project approved to date north of SK8 Zone is a pier, which will extend out to sea with a viewing platform, all doubling as camouflage for a stormwater outlet, near the Hawke's Bay Museum and Art Gallery, due to reopen mid-2013 after an $18 million redevelopment.

Mrs Arnott says people enjoy Marine Parade in different ways and the developments will allow "everyone even more choice".

"We'll have a good mix of free and entry-fee attractions, and a balance of quiet areas and high-energy attractions," she says. The Big Picture was "signed-off" in committee by the Council last week, delayed by legal action over Marineland's closure, which effectively blocked the council from making decisions on the Marineland site, and any relevant Marine Parade plans until after the action was over.

The way was cleared when a High Court judge turned down an application by the Friends of Marineland seeking a review of the council decision leading to the closure of Marineland, a holiday attraction for more than 30 years until regulations blocking the captivity of dolphins gradually stripped it of its major attraction.

Mr Arnott said the enthusiasm at the Council's meeting in July enabled the quick completion of the plan, with ideas stemming from consultation which had taken place in 2008.

Numerous other features which bathed in Marineland's reflected glory on the Parade have also long-gone, including such other pay attractions as Municipal saltwater baths, the Kiwi House, Can-Am Cars and a boating lake, with paddle and bumper boats.

Alongside the baths were public free-use paddling pools and trampolines, all on a site now occupied by Ocean Spa.

Part of Marineland could be retained, its grandstand possibly satisfying spectator needs at the cable skiing, a sport which has world championships.

How long it is before the Council satisfy the wishes of those accommodated on the Parade, however, is something else.

While the number of trucks driving along the Parade to and from the Port of Napier has been halved over the last decade, the Council says it won't disappear until all regional road strategies are in place, providing alternative routes or other options.


Already approved


Stormwater pier: Extending out to sea opposite the end of Tennyson St, the pier is to be built as both an attraction, also for aesthetic appeal, over the top of an outfall for the upgraded city centre stormwater system. Construction starts next year.

Playground extension: Further equipment south of the current playground, designed to cater for children of a slightly older age group than the largely pre-school age group of the existing area. Will be completed by Christmas.

Junior bike track: Next to the playground extension, it will take the shape of a tiny suburb, with small roads where children can learn to ride their bikes safely.

Recreation and water area: The area between the bike track and the aquarium will have a ponded area and landscaping suitable for picnicking, play and relaxation. Will get under way in the next six months.


The next step


BMX jump park: Just south of the Napier Skating Club, or as it is now known, SK8 Zone. Will be effectively an extension of SK8 Zone, meeting the needs of much the same age group as they develop their interest and skills for wheel-borne sport and daring. Hopefully on the next annual plan.


The big picture


Wave Garden: A paying attraction creating the artificial wave, big enough to surf, in a new pool north of Ocean Spa Hot Pools. Commercial partner wanted.

Cable Ski: The brainchild of a German engineer, water ski cableways first appeared on a German lake in 1959. There are now more than 140 around the world, about half in Germany, four in Australia but none yet in New Zealand. Commercial partner wanted.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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