Plenty of people have been heard from regarding Marineland. Too many of them have been answering the wrong question.
The wrong question is: Should we in some manner resuscitate Marineland?
The correct question is: Sentimentality aside, what’s the best use of a fabulous piece of city-controlled real estate on Marine Parade?
To answer that question, at least five others must first be addressed …
1. Whom should this space primarily benefit — Napier/HB locals, tourists, or (if possible) both? For example, we surely don’t need another Wine Country promotion booth for locals. And tourists (at least not cruisers) wouldn’t be much interested in attractions for local youth. Only from “who” can the Council proceed to “what.”
2. Are we wedded to a “marine” — or broader nature-oriented — attraction or amenity? If so, why? Is there any more compelling reason other than … maybe butterflies or penguins will be “in fashion” for the next couple of decades? “Happiness” is getting heaps of marketing buzz these days … maybe Napier needs a Happiness Centre!
3. Has a serious business case been prepared for any option currently being given consideration? Has it been vetted by anyone independent of its sponsor? Does it forecast ongoing ratepayer subsidy?
4. Should we give top priority to ventures conceived by private entrepreneurs, who might know more than Council employees about building a business that attracts enough customers to make money?
5. Assuming a well-grounded, independently vetted business case has identified the capital and ongoing operating costs to the ratepayers of any proposed venture, how do those monies stack up against other expenditures for other Napier priorities?
In other words, shouldn’t any public expenditure for a replacement venture for Marineland be required to compete against other spending priorities in the next Napier ten-year plan (LTCCP)?
I can’t see how the Napier Council could possibly be ready to make a decision on this one. For sure, they shouldn’t be stampeded by any advocates. The long-term consequences of this decision are too important.
Napier doesn’t need a “least objectionable” or “most incremental” replacement for Marineland, it needs a real sizzler. And there isn’t one on the table yet.