Weekly column by Kāpiti mayor K Gurunathan.

Construction workers were busy last week ramming piles at Coastlands along Rimu Road.

A two storey $6m building is being built.

"We are going ahead with it because we have confidence in the growth of the Kāpiti district," says Barry Clevely a director of Coastlands, one of the district's biggest business and employer.

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"As a developer with many decades of experience, I know success depends on keeping your eye on present opportunities and the business horizon ahead.

"Kāpiti is headed for growth.

"We are certain of that, " says Barry who recently featured on the Electra Business Hall of Fame.

Coastlands, as a private sector, is doing on a small scale what the public sector through the government is doing.

The state is injecting billions in capital to create jobs and economic activity.

For the public sector, state backed projects are a standard strategic response in times of recession to kick start and increase economic activity.

For the likes of Barry, it's also an investment in confidence.

Coastlands is committed to getting ready to catch the next growth spurt when the economy inevitably starts to lift. In the Covid-19 situation that investment adds to the critical need to keep jobs and the economy ticking along.

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It's this sense of confidence that we need when we look at the Kāpiti Island Gateway project.

For 28 years there has been a community conversation about the need for a gateway facility for visitors to go to Kāpiti Island and, while at the facility, be offered with information on all the other attractions offered by the district.

The community confidence in creating this facility has waxed and waned over a quarter of a century.

As a local journalist for 16 years I have frequently reported on this conversation.

As the Paraparumu Ward councillor, I picked a fight with DOC, advocating for a best practice bio-security facility for visitors to Kāpiti Island.

The bio-security checks executed at cafes and the car park tarmac is not best practice for Kāpiti Island, one of the country's top nature reserves.

Two years ago, I initiated a project with the School of Architecture & Design of Victoria University to create a design for a Gateway.

It was supported through a $10,000 scholarship grant for Masters students from the Maclean Foundation.

The foundation of local resident Chris Maclean the author of the seminal book Kapiti Island.

The fact that the design went on to win an international award did not stop some locals criticising the design.

It's the nature of the beast that any design of a public amenity will have its vocal critics.

The current Gateway design is the $4.46m facility proposed by Athfield Architects.

Concept design looking at the Kapiti Island Gateway centre from the beach. Photo / Athfield Architects
Concept design looking at the Kapiti Island Gateway centre from the beach. Photo / Athfield Architects

What's important is to note that at present we don't have: a best practice bio-security facility for visitors going to Kāpiti Island - nation biodiversity asset and the primary icon of the Kāpiti Coast; a facility that will provide an improved tourism visitor experience; a facility that will provide environmental education opportunities for adults and school children ; a facility to celebrate the deep cultural history of local Māori to the mainland and its links to the island; a facility to accommodate community activities; and a facility that will attract greater community and tourism foot traffic which will benefit local businesses in the Paraparumu Beach area.

The $4.46m project will provide all these at a cost of $2.2m to ratepayers because half the cost will be picked up by the government through its PGF funding.

This funding opportunity and the additional funding stimulus created by the Covid-19 stimulus has forced council to move processes quickly in response.

A clear majority of councillors have supported council's application to secure this funding while seeking more public input into the design and more information from a conclusive business case.

After thousands of man hours over 28 years, talking and working on this project, it's time to hook and reel this baby in with the considered support of all our communities.