Paihia revamp raises concern

By Peter de Graaf

Opposition is emerging from some business owners to an ambitious plan to revamp the Paihia waterfront.

This winter the community trust Focus Paihia is planning to replace a waterfront car park with greenery and public spaces.

It will involve laying grass and paths, street furniture, coloured LED lighting, a possible petanque court and coating Marsden Rd in coloured grit in a bid to slow traffic.

The project was well received at a public meeting in March but half a dozen business owners fronted up to a Far North District Council meeting last Thursday to voice concerns over the loss of 26 parking spaces.

Darryl Honey, whose businesses include Darryl's Dinner Cruises, said he was ''desperately worried'' and called for replacement parking to be provided before the waterfront car park was removed. It was essential to businesses stocking vessels with food and fuel, and used by tourists visiting the i-Site. If his staff had to park on Williams Rd they would have to walk through dark areas to get back to their cars at night.

''Focus Paihia is doing a good job but this is a massive project that affects a lot of people. We're just asking that they slow it down a bit,'' Mr Honey said.

Focus Paihia chairman Grant Harnish said the group was not taking parking concerns lightly. However, three surveys at different times of year had found 70 per cent of users exceeded the car park's one hour limit. Many were locals who parked there all day and considered the spaces their own.

After one Williams Rd business owner expressed his concerns Mr Harnish paced out the distance, finding it was 44 paces to the waterfront car park and 104 paces to the Williams Rd car park.

''I don't think an extra 60 paces is the end of the world,'' he said.

Like all Focus Paihia projects the waterfront revamp was designed to be reversible, ''so if it turns out to be a disaster, we can pull out the grass and turn it back into car parks''. Lighting in the Village Green and Williams Rd would be improved as part of the project.

During the debate it was revealed that four of the parking spaces were occupied daily by council staff working at the i-Site. An unimpressed Mayor Wayne Brown said that was unacceptable and would end immediately.

- Northern Advocate

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