KAPITI POLITICS - Kāpiti Mayoral challenger Gwynn Compton says there are real community concerns over proposed Kāpiti Island Gateway Centre
Kāpiti Coast mayoral candidate Gwynn Compton says he is calling on the Kāpiti Coast District Council to come clean with the community over its proposal for a Kāpiti Island Gateway Centre at Paraparaumu Beach that's being put forward to the Provincial Growth Fund.
Mr Compton's call follows a survey by the Paraparaumu Beach Business Association which indicated overwhelming support (92.99 percent) for a much smaller building rather than the previous options investigated by Council, which had been costed at up to $15 million.
"There's a real concern in the community that we're going to be presented with a fait accompli for a Kāpiti Island Gateway Centre that's much larger and more expensive than what the community wants or can afford," says Mr Compton.
"With the Council having previously investigated options costing up to $15 million, and the Provincial Growth Fund only likely to contribute part of that cost, there's a huge risk ratepayers are going to be asked to stump up millions for something that's not what we wanted and that we can't afford."
With applications to the Provincial Growth Fund also needing to be able to demonstrate they are supported by stakeholders, Mr Compton says that relying on limited engagement from a small group of stakeholders nearly six years ago simply doesn't wash when it comes to demonstrating that the community is behind a proposal.
"When nearly 93 percent of the Paraparaumu Beach Business Association's survey respondents support a smaller visitor centre and biosecurity check-in facility than what Council is believed to be putting forward, it reinforces the need to be upfront and open with the community and make sure whatever proposal is going before the Provincial Growth Fund and Minister Shane Jones has genuine community support, especially before even more money is spent progressing the proposal," says Mr Compton.
"The Paraparaumu Beach community agrees that a visitor centre and biosecurity check-in facility for Kāpiti Island is needed. But at the same time, there's a desire to ensure that whatever is built is fit for purpose, doesn't negatively impact our beachfront, doesn't detract from the stunning views out to Kāpiti Island, and is affordable for ratepayers."
Mr Compton is also questioning the Council's priorities at Paraparaumu Beach, with the lack of any new public amenities block at Maclean Park until 2032 and the polluted state of the Tikotu Stream being high on locals' minds as issues needing urgent attention rather than a new Gateway Centre.
"The toilet block at Maclean Park and the disgusting state of Tikotu Stream are endless sources of embarrassment for Paraparaumu Beach. Local business owners are constantly hearing from visitors about the state of Tikotu Stream which is frequently filled with rubbish, while the public toilet block is badly dated and no longer up to the task of catering for the large number of visitors to the area, especially during the summer months. The largely cosmetic improvements Council recently announced to the toilet block just won't cut it for meeting Paraparaumu Beach's needs for the next 13 years under the current proposed timeline for replacing them," says Mr Compton.
"It's telling that addressing urgent concerns around community infrastructure and environmental issues are taking a backseat at Council behind the Kāpiti Island Gateway Centre, and this perfectly illustrates the need for a fresh, community-led approach at Kāpiti Coast District Council."