Has Hamilton Gardens become a victim of its own success as more visitors flock to the attraction? Hamilton News looks at an ambitious proposal that could mean major changes for the local icon.
An ambitious plan to develop more themed gardens - including a Persian Garden and an Egyptian Garden at Hamilton Gardens is now open for public consultation.
The draft Hamilton Gardens management plan, approved by Hamilton City Council at a meeting earlier this year, combines the Hamilton Gardens Long Term Plan, developed in 2017, with key operational aspects relating to management of the award-winning visitor destination and public park.
Hamilton Gardens director Dr Peter Sergel said the draft management plan outlined a long-term plan for the gardens which was one of the top visitor attractions in the Waikato.
"In some ways we've become a victim of our own success with increasing challenges around parking and access at busy times and the need for more visitor facilities," Dr Sergel said.
"You only have to look at all of the traffic cones and gravel spread around the lawns to see the site isn't functioning well.
"The proposed plan addresses most of those issues, and more importantly we think it will lift Hamilton Gardens to another level.
"We're trying to create a world-class garden and this proposal should go a long way to achieving that. It'll also allow us to complete the collection of gardens telling the story of gardens by developing space for another 12 new gardens.
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"The plan involves shifting the Rhododendron Lawn, but it's important to see that in the wider context of the overall development plan and the improvements it outlines at Hamilton Gardens.
"The plan is not a commitment for the council to spend a lot of money — it provides a long-term plan so development can continue as resources become available."
The plan also includes the future possibility of paid entry into the theme gardens and the changes to the layout make that a more practical proposition.
"The development of Hamilton Gardens over the past 50 years has been driven by the community so it's important the community have a say in how it's going to be developed in future. We're really excited about the plan we're looking forward to sharing it with the public."
Physical copies of the consultation materials and feedback form will be available at Hamilton Gardens, the council's municipal buildings, and at all Hamilton City libraries branches later this week, or visit a specially developed website, where the materials can be viewed, and where there is a link to the council's have your say consultation portal.
There is an open day at Hamilton Gardens today from 4pm to 7pm with another on Sunday, May 5 (10am-4pm), during which people can find out more about the plan and staff will be available to answer questions.
The two-month public consultation period concludes on June 7. Submissions and comments will be analysed, any revisions made to the plan, and it will then be presented to the council for adoption.