Mayor's e-Column - 19/10/2006The excitement builds!
Just two sleeps until the Meads Cup final and Wanganui rugby's biggest ever game since the drawn Ranfurly Shield challenge against Taranaki in the early-1960s.
Wanganui has only ever won third division titles since the NPC began in 1976, and we have never held the Ranfurly Shield. Even our win over the Lions in 1966 was a combined effort with King Country and essentially consisted of King Country playing in Wanganui jerseys.
But Saturday is the real deal. We will need every man, woman and child at Cooks Gardens on Saturday because the boys need our vocal support. And because Wairarapa-Bush are a very good team with hundreds and hundreds of traveling supporters.
On Saturday let's be loud, proud and loud again!
Splash project nears
The initial tenders for the completion of the Splash project are now in and suggest that a $6 million-plus sum will be the final bill.
That doesn't surprise given galloping construction inflation but it still suggests that council needs to be much more robust in getting its costings. Fortunately, the Genesis $700,000 and the extra $300,000 from Powerco will not require council to alter its projected funding for this project.
And we still have naming rights to sell and other corporates to tap.
But I have only just realised how extensive this new facility is going to be. The below features are all included in the Splash price and the final construction will be state-of-the-art. That was the instruction Council gave to the Splash design team don't skimp. Do it once, and do it right.
When completed, facilities will include:
- Learn to swim
- 'Lazy River'
- Toddlers' Beach
- Hot Pools
- A café
- Steam room
- Twin Hydro-slides
- & a stair tower
Plus all the associated plant and equipment required to support these facilities.
Construction is expected to start in November and be completed by October 2007 ready for summer.
Heart project to be launched
This will be publicly launched next Thursday, 26 October, by the three architects involved Pete Bossley, David Mitchell and Tony van Raat. Then an extensive public information campaign will begin.
Wanganui will be presented with three simple questions to answer.
Do we want to revitalise the city's cultural precinct?
If so, with what facility (library, museum, art gallery) do we start?
And what kind of facility should that be?
It will not be as complicated a decision as the 2005 Referendum which asked people to prioritise 14 capital projects, or as complex as the STV voting process for the district health board elections.
Council has unanimously signed off the various options after considerable discussion and debate with all the various staff involved in Queens Park.
The status quo (i.e. do nothing except maintain the existing facilities) will be an option. I would not discount its prospect of success. But this will be a decision that rests with all Wanganui people, and not just the opinionated few.
As readers will be aware, I hold a strong personal view that local body politicians should not be paid other than their traveling and 'phone expenses.I would seem to be in a minority of one around the council table, but that does not mean that I'm not right. (wry smile)
There are literally scores of Wanganui folk who work as hard as elected officials in community and voluntary groups with neither thought nor prospect of financial reward. For that reason, I donate my mayor's salary to community and/or charitable projects in the wider community.
I am aware that a number of other elected officials throughout the country hold a similar view, and take a similar stand. Hopefully, when the long overdue rationalisation of local government finally happens, the issue of council pay will be addressed again.
And that rationalisation can't happen fast enough. On a recent trip south, I discovered the Central Otago District Council who have only 15,000 residents but a mayor, 13 councilors and another 30 remunerated community board members. Weird, and expensive, stuff.
Of course my paying jobs are a mix of radio, TV and column-writing and this week I was pleased to conclude a 5-year contract with Canwest starting 1 January 2007.
I enjoy talkback radio and it's been fun being part of a start-up station like Radio Live. Like TV3, the intent is to steadily accumulate audience and Canwest are in for the long haul. It took TV3 something like 12 years to challenge TVNZ's supremacy but it has now succeeded and their flagship TV3 News regularly outrates TV One.
Radio Live won't take 12 years to become #1 but the steady-as-she-goes approach is the right way to go. On a personal note, a 5-year contract also provides a surety of income that my growing family demands! That I can do this national show from Wanganui proves that you don't need to leave town to influence the country.
On the local front, John Maslin has certainly lifted the 'Chronicle' game when it comes to reporting council affairs. His maturity and insight are exactly what is required and already there is a depth and intelligence to his stories that council has missed these past two years.
Some of that is due to the lingering ill-health of the previous civic veteran Dave Laurence who passed away this week. This new council scarcely had time to make Dave's acquaintance before he fell ill, and a series of other reporters attempted to take his place.
Older councilors remember Dave's quirky style with affection and respect. Our sympathies to his wife and family.
I also understand that an unholy row has erupted over the appointment of Kirsty Macnicol as the new 'Chronicle' editor. Kirsty is moving from Fairfax to the APN stable, and these sorts of moves tend to bring the worst out in the parent companies.
Radio and TV have similar demarcation scraps Martin Devlin was off air for six months before being finally released by Newstalk ZB to work on Radio Live.
It's a competitive world out there and when Kirsty finally arrives, I'm sure she will be chomping at the bit to get involved.
Well, that's been my week. See you at the rugby on Saturday!