A major revamp of Te Awamutu's much-loved Memorial Park could be on the cards — but not immediately and not without community support.
Over coming months, Waipā District Council will ask the community for feedback on a new concept plan developed for the 6.68ha park. If it goes ahead, the plan developed alongside mana whenua, the Te Awamutu Netball Association and the RSA, will see the first major make-over of the park which opened in 1955.
Waipā mayor Jim Mylchreest said staff had worked closely with community stakeholders to develop an "aspirational vision" for Memorial Park which could be implemented in stages over the next 10 years.
Plans include relocating the amphitheatre to increase the size of the space, strengthening connections to the Mangaohoi and Mangapiko Streams, replacing the existing pond with a purpose-built play area, improving car-parking and creating new memorial features.
There were also bids to undertake a major indigenous planting programme, establish a heritage orchard at the park and redesign and reinstate the three bridges.
The proposal also suggests creating a three metre wide walking and cycling "spine" through the park to connect Mutu Street and Racecourse Road as well as creating a network of secondary trails.
"It's all great stuff and those involved should be commended for bringing the views of different groups together for consideration by the wider community," said Jim.
"But we need to remember that this work began before Covid-19 hit so we're now in a different world. We need to all be mindful of that and not make promises that we can't deliver in the short-term.
"Council's finances have been turned upside down along with everybody else's so now, more than ever, we'll be looking very carefully at Council's spending priorities. Unless we can secure some external funding for parts of this plan — and if would be great if we could — then we need to be realistic and accept the whole plan might not come to fruition for a while."
While Jim wanted to to temper expectations, he supported the concept plan going out to the community for wider public comment.
"I know key stakeholders like mana whenua and the RSA have been closely involved with the concept, and I know it has the support of Te Awamutu Community Board," he said.
"But this is a very well-used community space and the wider community will have strong views about what they do and don't like about the concept plan, so let's hear those views early.
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"We haven't committed to anything yet but it does mean that when funding is available, we will be able to move faster."
Staff would roll out a consultation programme over coming weeks and would consider how best to engage people while the national Covid-19 alert system is still in place, he said. The engagement programme would allow people to "pick over" all aspects of the proposed concept and allow all views to be heard.
Consultation on the plan is likely to begin on Monday, May 18 and run for eight weeks.
Next week Te Awamutu Courier will present some of the highlights of the plan, with comments from Te Awamutu RSA president Lou Brown, Te Awamutu Grey Power president Hazel Barnes and Te Awamutu Community Board chair Ange Holt.