Hamilton Gardens – one of the Waikato's top visitor attractions – is holding an open day on Sunday, July 19 seeking feedback from the community as it advances plans to make it one of the world's best public gardens.
The proposed changes which address traffic congestion, parking and access issues, are part of the long-term development plan for Hamilton Gardens
The current consultation comes after Hamilton City Council revisited plans it announced in April 2019 after a strong community backlash against the original idea of moving the main carpark to the site of the Rhododendron Lawn - site of many community events including Gourmet in the Gardens.
The new proposed layout keeps the Rhododendron Lawn intact.
"We now have a new solution," says the council deputy chief executive and general manager community group, Lance Vervoort.
"This new concept keeps the Rhododendron Lawn, introduces a potential new treetop walk and includes new shared paths for cyclists and pedestrians," he says in a letter inviting residents to the open day from 10am to 4pm on Sunday.
"The carpark near the rose garden will be extended; there'll be a new carpark at road level, a through road to better connect the two entrances and relieve congestion, and safer access to the gardens, whether you're on foot or wheels," Vervoot says.
Consultation on the new proposal opened on July 11 and closes on August 9. It is specifically focused on whether the new concept addresses concerns raised by the public last year.
"We ran a two-month consultation process on the draft Hamilton Gardens Management Plan last year and got rich feedback, including strong support for the development of several spectacular new gardens," says councillor Mark Bunting, chairman of the council's Community Committee.
"All that feedback and the views from this latest consultation will go into the mix when the Community Committee considers the draft management plan again in September."
Bunting says the consultation process shows how interaction between the community and the council works best.
"Hamiltonians obviously felt strongly about the Rhododendron Lawn aspect of the draft management plan and we listened to that. The new concept keeps a special part of the Gardens intact and tackles issues we need to resolve to make Hamilton Gardens excellent in every aspect."
He says the aim is to deliver a world-class experience for local and international visitors from the time they enter Hamilton Gardens to the time they leave.
The revised layout will all see riverfront land freed up for more appropriate use, including linking the gardens to the Waikato River.
Decisions made through the 2021-31 Long-Term Plan process will determine the timing of Hamilton Gardens' development, including the proposed layout changes. The council will adopt the Long-Term Plan in June 2021.
The management plan outlines key operational aspects relating to the award-winning visitor destination and public park. It proposes developing 12 new themed gardens in addition to the four gardens currently under development.
Hamilton City Council has applied for Government Covid-19 stimulus funding to accelerate the development of Hamilton Gardens and connect the Gardens with the Waikato Museum via the river. A decision on that proposal is still pending.
If you can't make it to the open day, feedback is invited through the city council's online survey at hamilton.govt.nz/haveyoursay or by completing the form available at Hamilton libraries, the gardens information centre or the council's city offices.