A bridge too far?
Back in April 2015, I wrote supporting council's desire for a suspension bridge out of town, to truly enhance the "Mountains to the Sea" experience. The response was excellent. It would certainly raise recreational local and regional usage and our related destination profile. There would be obvious economic benefits to the Aramoho shops, motor camps and eateries, as one may rest before entering the historically diverse township.
The popular idea died quickly once it was clear that central government would not fund this $1.2 million enterprise. Council was exploring enhancing the road/pathway experiences along State Highway 1 from upriver and down busy East Whanganui. Government said this could not be funded by them in that context.
Yet two years on, we see central government ready to stump up some millions for the velodrome, supporting the Sarjeant and the port redevelopment. Hmm ... election year.
From a Greens position, why are they not pushing for our vote on an environmentally friendly no-brainer? Come on, Nicola Patrick, the others are baiting the hook.
Imagine a decent tram ride out to the cemetery (and the new cemetery cafe), and weary travellers can come back to town with stops at the rail bridge, the Aramoho shops, Dublin and city tram shed?
Ambitious but do-able.
I know the council has not completely given up on the suspension bridge; they are just quietly playing possum. I am advised that from an engineering point there is also no huge impediment to the associated walkways entering Aramoho and joining the walkways that follow on from the railway bridge.
Amazingly, we are crossed by four city bridges and guess what - there is no bridges policy committee to develop an overall position linked to the awa? That, too, should happen.
I know many will say nice ideas, but no.
Five bridges, lit up, walkways and choices about how to enter our town and, "one ring (a tram) to bind them all".
I just want us to keep the idea of the suspension bridge alive.
It's hard to find anyone who grew up in Whanganui during the 1950s-60s who doesn't share Victoria Morris' (letters, July 10) nostalgia for those times when anyone leaving school without meaningful qualifications or arriving as immigrants from post-war Europe could land a job at the freezing works, wool scour, railway workshops etc and university graduates were as scarce as hens' teeth.
The dredge, cement boats and later Pam Williams' trawlers were regular users of the port and, as a young reporter, I was gobsmacked to learn of the huge infrastructure and personnel costs, not to mention an elected harbour board, required to keep things going.
Does Ms Morris really think 70 huge trucks thundering up and down the Parapara to load one ferry a day with containers can replace the thousands of jobs provided 50-60 years ago by the freezing works and railway workshops? Does she really think ratepayers can afford to bankroll the infrastructure and ongoing dredging needed? Does she realise a new waste treatment plant is under way, our rural roads are under unprecedented pressure from logging trucks, and our precious heritage buildings need millions spent on earthquake-proofing?
She also talks about the MidWest proposal needing "fleshing out", including with a feasibility study. I have news for her (news that has been widely disseminated, especially in the Chron's opinion page) that MidWest presented just such a study to Whanganui District Council in early May.
WDC smelt a rat, so wisely commissioned a peer review as one of a sobering suite of three expert reports, which have been reported on and are available from the WDC website or office. It pretty much demolishes, paragraph by paragraph, MidWest's effort to justify their plan, which failed to meet the standards expected of the council when it was asked to sink tens of thousands of dollars of ratepayer money into the MidWest begging bowl.
I suggest Ms Morris reads all three expert reports before she's tempted to chip in to help the MidWest promoters pay off the authors of the flawed feasibility study and other work to date. It seems they need $190,000 to pay their bill by Thursday, so the heat is on residents and businesses to dig deep.
The NZ Companies Office records show only one director of Midwest Ferries Ltd, Neville William Johnson, so presumably the buck stops with him. (Abridged)