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$6m upgrade a ‘gift’ to Carterton

An artist’s impression of the proposed new play space at Carrington Park, Carterton. IMAGE/SUPPLIED

An ambitious $6.2 million playground upgrade is on the way for Carterton, set to transform it from a “drive-thru” town to a go-to destination.

The Carrington Park project, which gained council support on Wednesday, would be externally-funded – meaning no rates would be required for the build, despite it being a council-owned asset.

The project is being facilitated by Ka Pai Carterton and was developed over two years of community engagement.

Ratepayers will need to fund ongoing maintenance of the park and depreciation.

Now it has council support, the next step is to flesh out a more detailed design with the community’s input and to secure funding.

It is understood multiple funding options would be needed for a project of its size.

Some funding has been pre-approved.

A Ka Pai Carterton spokesperson said the playground design would centre around a theme of “the natural and mythological worlds”.

Ra Smith, of Ngati Kahungunu, wrote poetry to inform the design which tells the story of a comet bouncing along the river “and as it did, the galaxy was imprinted on the backs of the kokopu [native trout]”.

Although the playground’s design is in its early stages, there are plans for a zero-depth splash pad, sculptural light swings, a kapa haka stage, a “crashed comet netting social area”, and a tree-top walk.

Ka Pai Carterton said the playground upgrade would be “a gift” to the people of Carterton.

At Carterton District Council’s meeting on Wednesday, some councillors expressed logistical concerns about the project but were supportive.

Councillor Dale Williams said his thought process on the project had continued to evolve over the past two years.

He had spoken to people for and against the idea and said he supported the idea in principle if external funding could be secured.

“There are real benefits in being aspirational now. We need to take advantage of every opportunity to bring in outside funds.”

Councillor Jill Greathead said it would be an “amazing” project, “but it does come at a future cost”.

Chief executive Geoff Hamilton said maintenance of the project was not in Long-Term Plan funding but it would most likely be picked up in the parks and reserves budget.

Details on the whole of life costs of the project were not available, but with an assumption of a 20-year life on the play space, depreciation would be about $185,000 a year.

Depreciation reserves are used to fund the replacement of existing assets at the end of their useful lives.

Councillor Steve Cretney was concerned the project may not get enough external funding or that it would come in over budget.

“It has turned from something that was achievable to something that is heading to the moon.”

Deputy Mayor Rebecca Vergunst said the opportunity to upgrade the park with external funding was “too good to pass up”.

Councillor Robyn Cherry-Campbell thanked Ka Pai Carterton for their work, drive, and passion.

Water play was a popular idea at the community engagement level, but some concerns were raised around the inclusion of a splash pad, given the council’s commitment to being water-wise.

Ka Pai Carterton said any water activities that go ahead would be achieved in a fully sustainable way.

The upgrade is still in the concept design phase meaning no details have been finalised.

Water usage at the park would be investigated further at the detailed design stage which would happen over the next six months.

The main contractor on the project is WSP.

Councillors Brian Deller and Jill Greathead voted in favour of approving just the first stage of the project [$2.3m] and the recommendation failed due to lack of support.

Five councillors voted to approve stages one [$2.3m] and two [$2.3m] of the project, which included the park frontage, play space, and exercise area.

Voting in favour were: Rebecca Vergunst, Dale Williams, Steve Cretney, Robyn Cherry-Campbell, and Mayor Greg Lang.

Councillor Russell Keys was absent.

Stage three, the wider park development, would cost $1.6m.

This stage has not been approved by council yet.

Costs include a 25 per cent contingency. — NZLDR

  • Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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