Saturday, November 28, 2009

Waikato-Auckland rail service NOW! - Public meeting, Tuesday 2nd December, 7.30pm, Hamilton City Council Reception Lounge

If you are a supporter of a rail service between Hamilton and Auckland, please try and make it to this meeting, organised by the Campaign for Better Transport.
If you think Hamilton deserves to be treated like a modern city, then help us insist that the Government provide the normal subsidy applying elsewhere for rail (and other forms of public transport) for a 12-month trial of this service.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Variation 7 - Hamilton's District Plan supports heritage & special character areas in Templeview

The Hamilton City Council has today unanimously supported changes to its planning regulations (District Plan) that provide stronger protection for the special character of the Templeview village, including the Church College of NZ campus (slated for closure & demolition by the Salt Lake City-based LDS Church hierarchy) and the iconic LDS Temple.
This marks a great move forward for heritage protection in Hamilton City, with Templeview now joining Frankton's 'Railway Village' settlement, Hamilton East's 'Hayes Paddock' and the Claudelands West area as deserving of recognition and preservation of their special characters. The main Hamilton East block is next to be looked at, early in 2010.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hamilton-Auckland Commuter Rail Service?

Hamilton City Council staff have prepared a report on this for the Council's Transport Committee meeting (24/11/09) – there is no doubt that KiwiRail has moved so far from their original estimates and guesstimates of the cost of such a service that what we have in front of us, as a proposal from them, is so far out of the ballpark as to be in a different game entirely.

The proposal we have now is tremendously disappointing, and I can’t help feeling that the message to us is ‘don’t bother with a rail service to Auckland (or anywhere else), because there is no way we will let you have one’!

Likely costs and subsidies for such a service have more than doubled since early discussions.

We are pretty sure that there has been a degree of ‘outside influence’ brought to bear on KiwiRail management and Board, and on individuals and groups that have been supporting the proposed service. I myself have had a message from a Government member relayed to me via another Councillor telling me in no uncertain terms ‘not to go there’. Other organisations have had similar or stronger messages.

However, it is still obvious, even to Blind Freddy, that there will be a passenger rail service between Hamilton and Auckland – the only questions are when, and whether the Government and its agencies are willing to play fair by stumping up with the same subsidies that they provide for roading, buses and other transport projects.

There is very strong support in the community for such a rail service, and government representatives need to ensure they are seen to be acting in a fair and even-handed fashion in relation to such proposals.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Beach sports come to Hamilton

It’s not quite bringing the Mountain to Mohammed, but it is bringing Sand to the City!

Today, Hamilton’s newest sporting facility takes shape with 385 tonnes of special grade sand being dumped into the old Te Rapa Bowling Club courts in Ashurst Park, next to the Te Rapa Sportsdrome off Church Rd, Pukete.

The six-court (volleyball) venue will be the only public sand courts in Hamilton (there are single court facilities at two local schools for the use of school pupils), with the nearest other facilities being at Karapiro Domain, over 40 mins drive from Hamilton), or at Mt Maunganui and Auckland.

The Waikato Volleyball Association came up with the plan to convert the outdoor bowling facility to a new beach sports facility when the Bowling Club wound up several months ago, and has since been fundraising and organising for the new venture.

The Hamilton City Council voted in August to lease the bowling club to the Association, and over $10,000 has been received from the Perry Foundation, Southern Trust, Grassroots Trust and Youthtown Trust towards the approximate $30,000 establishment costs – $14,000 of the remainder is being contributed directly from Association coffers, while fundraising will continue for ‘bells & whistles’ that can’t be afforded initially.

While the facility is on public/Council land, the Association has not asked for, or received, any ratepayer or taxpayer funding for the project.

It has also been in discussions with the regional soccer and touch football organisations who are also keen to utilise the sand courts for their sports, while Pukete’s community house – which is based at the Sportsdrome will also be using it for their large kids’ after-school and holiday programmes.

Beach volleyball and beach soccer are fast-growing international sports, with beach volleyball being the only form of the sport in which New Zealand has so far achieved Olympic representation. A number of high school and University students in the Waikato are already in national beach volleyball squads, and the new facility is expected to advance their claims and bring new people into contention.

As well as the high level, social, school and other local beach volleyball leagues will be run, with Waikato-Bay of Plenty Football also looking at similar activities.

This is the second such bowling club conversion in New Zealand, with the other being in Mairangi Bay, North Shore, where the old ‘Women’s Bowling Club’ was converted with Council and national volleyball financial assistance in 2006.