Hastings Council has a strategic vision: Build it and let it rot.

The same issue comes up over and over in Hastings. Notice the pattern …

  • Build Nelson Park … let it deteriorate until there’s a ‘case’ to tear it down and start all over again.
  • Build Splash Planet and let it twist in the wind.
  • Defer repairing footpaths until Council is so far behind in its maintenance schedule that it needs to borrow funds to catch up.
  • Stand by and watch our community pools deteriorate … not exactly an overnight phenomenon.
  • Build a sewage treatment plant that latest reports suggest will stink even after million-plus dollar lids are added.
  • Procrastinate over maintaining satisfactory public toilets.
  • Sit around and wait for Pettigrew-Green Arena to get rusty.
  • And the latest, reported by the DomPost over the weekend, neglect the dams that are supposed to provide flood protection for Havelock North (even the normally lethargic Regional Council is complaining about this one).

And these represent only the infrastructure neglect that has managed to make it onto the public ‘radar’ so far. Looking at this list and the pattern it illustrates, one can only wonder what lurks under the radar. [BayBuzz has some ideas on that … another time.]

Hey, Councillors might argue, not to worry, we’re taking care of the big stuff … we’re budgeting for hanging flower pots and ‘pocket parks’ in the CBD, aren’t we? No, these are mere cosmetics by comparison to the deferred maintenance issue.

This Tuesday brings another routine meeting of the Hasting Council’s Finance and Operations Committee. On the agenda is a regular update on ‘Asset Management’ — an oxymoron under the circumstances.

It’s time for Hastings Councillors to wake up and apply themselves to the unglamorous task of actually protecting and maintaining the assets of the community, instead of finding new projects on which to spend ratepayer dollars.

Tuesday’s Committee meeting — as routine as it is — sits at a ripe moment in the annual budgeting process. It might be an occasion to start questioning Council’s apparent preferred infrastructure policy — benign neglect.

Tom Belford

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  1. Exactly the same can be said for Napier City Council and the facilities they control:

    Onekawa “Olympic” Pools (opened in 1963) Napier’s only 50 meter outside pool.

    Loved and used by generations of Napier families and schoolchildren for almost 50 years. Lack of major upgrades or upkeep leaves it to deteriorate until subsidence and cracks make fixing it “uneconomical” and force its closure. Currently being bulldozed and demolished.

    Marineland (opened 1965). A tourist Mecca. It put Napier on the map and has been synonymous with the city for almost 50 years (hmm anyone else noticing a pattern emerging here?) Loved and visited by generations of Napier families and schoolchildren as well as thousands of visitors to Napier.

    We all know the saga by now. Once again lack of major upgrades or upkeep left it to deteriorate fixing it “uneconomical” and forced its closure too.

    The animal captivity issue aside, if proper thought and planning had been put into play years ago, the facility would have been developed, expanded and it may have already evolved to a point where animals (excluding those being rehabilitated, probably) didn’t need to be kept in enclosures, we didn’t have this whole nasty problem and a better version of Marineland was still running happily. But there wasn’t and it hasn’t. Personally, I can’t see how getting lawyers involved is going to stop almost 2kms of NOTHING filling the majority Marine Parade’s formerly main tourist area.

    Meanwhile, over the past decade or so, while the two family facilities above have been ignored, Napier’s City Council has been giving out support and incentives so privately owned buildings of an 80 year vintage in Napier’s CBD can be made to look all pretty, arty and decorative.

    But not even “young” complexes are safe now. Ocean Spa, the new darling on the block, is only a couple of years into service of young, old, visitors and locals and complaints of graffiti, cracks, broken tiles, blown lights, dirty pools (and even dirtier antics in some of the pools going un-chastised) are already getting publicity. The council says it has not recorded any subsidence or building damage, so can’t see what all the fuss is about (in other words we’ll give it another 48 years, then call in the bulldozers).

    “Great minds think alike” eh? Or, more appropriately “Ignore the past and we are doomed to relive it!”

  2. Tom as a youngster I had many a school athletics day at Nelson Park. That was more than 30 years ago now, Nelson Park was outdated, inadequate and lacked parking back then.

    Was Nelson Park even around when you came to Hawke's Bay?

    No amount of "asset management" would have made that facility fit for purpose in the present day, also the detractors should remember that Nelson Park went to a referendum. Can't get much more consultative or democratic than that can you?

    Funny thing is, people only seem to want democracy when it finds in their favour.

    Everyone talks about asset management plans as being the great fix all. They have an important part to play in terms of determining maintenance priorities, however you can have the world's best asset management plan and at some stage you will still need to replace the asset. Maintenance and replacmenet can only keep things alive for so long.

    I read the draft aquatic strategy, as it's something dear to my heart. No doubt some things have been neglected, but surely it is a big step in the right direction. It determines the work that needs to be done now and set out a path for the future, including the potential for a new pool to meet diverging user needs.

    I just hope Hastings and Napier get together and build a regional facility as the cost would be more pallatble if shared.

    BTW: I went to Splash Planet at the weekend – it was great. Didn't appear to be "twisting in the wind".

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