Pukekura Park plan perfect

New Plymouth’s Pukekura Park – rated the Mayfair of NZ parks.

If Neil Holdom decides to stand for mayor again I have bad news for his would-be opponents – you’ll merely be going through the motions.

Nothing wrong with that if winning the mayoralty is your longish-term aim. His reign won’t last forever.

But it’s pretty safe in the immediate future if his latest piece of work is something to go by, a magnificent long-term vision for one of our place’s most precious assets.

Voters in the upcoming local body elections need only to refer to the New Plymouth District Council’s newly released Pukekura Park Reserve Management Plan to realise Holdom has reached that mature stage in his political career when he knows what will work, the things that will leave a commendable legacy.

The mayor has made no secret of his admiration for the park and has been determined to find a solution to the uneasy mix of cyclists and pensioner strollers.

A feature of the new plan is to convert some remote western tracks into a pedal-way where push-bikers can let rip without scaring the hell out of granddads like me.

But there’s a lot more to the strategy vision than that. It encompasses almost all major possibilities for ensuring Pukekura Park and the Bowl of Brooklands maintain their status as New Zealand’s Mayfair of parks.

There are proposals to tidy up seating at the Bowl and accommodate moshpit-seeking music promoters without ruining the reflection lake, a new cricket pavilion, expansion of the tea kiosk, green modernisation for the zoo, and better use of Cannon Hill views from above the band rotunda.

Two of those are urgent, in my opinion – the cricket pavilion replacement and the Bowl seating. In both cases we’ve got consumers clamouring for improvements.

The cricket authorities are threatening to withdraw from the park if nothing is done about providing adequate changing rooms, while concert promoters say their events often need semi-moshpit facilities above the Bowl lake. The latter cost the council up to $70,000 a time for a temporary structure.

The new park plan has workable solutions for both problems, although the cricketers want their new pavilion in a different place from that suggested by the council. The council is right, though, if the ground is to accommodate temporary seating for big events.

Mayor Holdom’s push for a dedicated cycleway is also timely, given councillor Gordon Brown has alerted his colleagues to the fact about 150 cyclists a day ignore the park’s cycling ban.

My main concern is the plan doesn’t mention enlarging the playing field so cricket can host test matches.

It could be done by putting a new access road in from Gilbert St (or the end of Fillis St) and chopping back a terrace or two on the western embankment.

This is surely too good a chance to miss to reinforce the reputation Pukekura Park already has as one of the world’s most scenic cricket venues. Think of all the coverage on TV.

Dare I mention those fateful words? C’mon Mr Mayor – think big. And ignore Murray Chong’s flip-flopping moans about cost. A way can always be found.

About Jim Tucker

Supposed to be retired, after quitting journalism teaching in 2013 (after 25 years, preceded by 22 years as a newspaper journalist and editor), but find myself busier than ever with various book projects, advising law firms, and writing articles for magazines like North & South and Live.
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