Whangarei council to give scruffy car park makeover

By Alexandra Newlove

2 comments
They can be given a hard time, but 91 per cent of residents surveyed say the Whangarei District Council is doing a good job. Pictured, Mayor Sheryl Mai and CE Rob Forlong. Photo / Michael Cunningham
They can be given a hard time, but 91 per cent of residents surveyed say the Whangarei District Council is doing a good job. Pictured, Mayor Sheryl Mai and CE Rob Forlong. Photo / Michael Cunningham

The conversion of a scruffy car park into a lush green space will be among the projects to please the half of Whangarei residents who want money spent on making the city "welcoming and nice".

Parks, water quality, the Hatea Loop and libraries were the stand-out performers in the recent Whangarei District Council 2016 Resident Satisfaction Survey, with 91 per cent of people saying the council was doing a good job overall.

Not so shiny were results around feelings of safety, roads, stormwater and the needs of the young, elderly and disabled.

The survey interviewed 400 residents over the phone between April 14 and May 5. Overall, 91 per cent were satisfied with the council's performance.

WDC chief executive Rob Forlong said areas that needed addressing were stormwater management (68 per cent satisfaction), unsealed roads (48 per cent) and CBD parking (55 per cent).

Proposed projects could see Whangarei CBD lose between 542 and 712 carparks - up to 20 per cent of available spaces and staff were conducting a review around how these can be replaced.

However less parking could mean more parks - an area of investment ratepayers valued, Mr Forlong said.

One such project was the Carpark to Park, for which planning was under way, which would convert 229 car parks near Canopy Bridge into a green space. Laurie Hall Park could also be extended in the coming years.

In recent years WDC's focus had been on wastewater management, following a public outcry in 2009 over a consent the council had to discharge raw sewerage into the harbour in emergencies.

"One of the things we've now noted is that we have prioritised wastewater over stormwater. Now we're going to prioritise getting stormwater cleared up," he said.

Mr Forlong said the survey showed the sealing of unsealed roads was a priority for a large section of the community, not just those living on them. As part of addressing this he planned to continue lobbying the New Zealand Transport Agency on behalf of residents on Wright and McCardle roads, who had campaigned for more than 12 years to have the logging truck route outside their homes sealed.

There was virtually no change in satisfaction with transfer stations compared to 2015, despite a significant cut in opening hours at rural stations over the past year which annoyed some but saved the council $170,000 per year.

Council's relationship with Maori, while much improved over the five years, was still rated fairly poorly, with 52 per cent saying it was "fairly good" or better.

- Northern Advocate

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