A story in the Capital Times has been intriguing us here at Eye of the Fish world headquarters, and I’m surprised no one else has picked it up. The Cap Times (with a nicely renovated website – good work guys!) interviews a “local businessman” who is unhappy with the Council spending over a million bucks on ripping apart the old Cobblestone Park outside the big red building of Arch and Design.
The man, who owns a business nearby, wrote back highlighting his concerns. He never received a reply… He says it’s not appropriate to spend such a large amount in the current economic climate on something of “low priority”.
“I like parks, but instead of doing up this one, the money could easily have been used to provide more parks by buying some of the little properties which are coming up for sale, putting some trees on and enhancing the city rather as they do in London” he says.
“Council’s approach is too narrow focused. I feel it gets a budget each year and feels it must spend the whole amount.”
The photo in the article is clearly taken from a local business, the nearby Comfort Hotel – developed by Rex Nichols, the husband of the Mayor. It couldn’t be as simple as that could it? Is the “local business man” actually the mayor’s other half?
Surely not. The park redesign appears to have been tailor made especially for the Hotel – as Wraight + Associates design statement says: “A newly defined diagonal spine traverses the park proper from the Knigges Avenue – Vivian Street intersection through to the re-composed Design School Entry stair, forming the primary cross site connection to the Design School and the recently refurbished Hotel Wellington development.”
We’ve spoken briefly about parks before, including discussions on the crappy little pocket parks of Karo Drive and also a proposed park on the Swan Lane carpark site. Wellington urgently needs more parks in the inner city – spaces that the growing number of inner city residents can get away from cars, whether they are moving or parked. Spending the money on this Cobblestone revamp seems a complete waste of time, although I’m sure we’ll all enjoy it more when it is complete.
But again, like the (hideous) revamp of Glover Park, the main aim seems to have been the deletion of the “undesirable” types who normally inhabit the park. This includes birds (of both the feathered and transvestite species) as well as winos (includes beer swillers, glue, meths, and petrol sniffers also). The starlings have had their favourite tree turned into firewood, the squealing trannies and hookers have had their ‘play-station’ (derelict bus shelter) removed, and the boozy bozos have been walled out by a tall timber fence (back to Glover Park for a few months then boys?). The ‘pond’ that was the main feature of the site has been demolished (well, seeing as no one could be arsed filling it with water for the last 4 years, that seemed to be a foregone conclusion).
There are more important things to be doing than fiddling about with parks and winos. A far more important project to be getting on with would be the Memorial Park up on Buckle St, where the Council and Transit / NZTA are still arguing over what should be done. Latest rumour is that we may hear more in early 2010 although the NZTA are appalling at discussing things with locals and so who knows what to expect. One simple suggestion from the Fish however: while you’re all arguing over the route and how not to poison the children in Mt Cook School, how about just commissioning a summer archaeological dig on the currently fenced off site, so that you can get that bit out of the way?