One clue was BayBuzz overhearing a Napier ratepayer at Raffles Cafe, who commented that he was asked in a recent Council-sponsored phone survey what he thought of the tagline — “Napier … Venice of the Southern Hemisphere.”
Then our research staff noticed in the draft budget for next year a small economic development item called “Opus Capital Requirements Study: Canals versus Roads.”
We snooped around in the Napier Planning Department and finally were told of a confidential Option 5 having been drafted for inclusion in the proposed Te Awa Structure Plan. This plan contemplates developing 125 hectares of land in the southeast of Napier City.
So, here’s the scoop.
As we know, most of Napier is or soon will be under sea level. This would of course include the area to be developed. Indeed, Napier is a water pump manufacturer’s wildest fantasy!
But that doesn’t deter city planners and engineers, or private developers.
Prodded by Mayor Arnott, who literally gushed with enthusiasm after researching firsthand in Amsterdam and Venice the delights of living below sea level, the planning team has risen to the hydraulic challenge and developed a scheme called Growing Under Water (GUW).
GUW envisions a partially submerged residential development with homes connected by meandering canals. Residents would leave their cars at the edge of the development, and use personal gondolas to pole around within the complex. Deluxe homes would have underwater viewing rooms to watch sea life purpose-bred for a life of entertainment in the complex by a rejuvenated Marineland. A special canal for high speed vaporetto would ferry GymSports enthusiasts from the village to the proposed Regional Sports Park.
Planners are dripping with excitement over the sustainability benefits of this approach — no carbon footprint within the village, a new lease on life for Marineland, and an estimated 175 new jobs for gondoliers, marine biologists, hydraulic engineers, water-proofing contractors and pump repair mechanics.
A major glitch in the planning has been the problem of sewage disposal in an area where the water table routinely would be higher than the first floor of most dwellings. Mayor Arnott has voiced major displeasure that planners haven’t disposed of this messy matter. She was heard to explode: “I’m sick of this mental constipation. If Venice can live in sh*t and still be a world-class tourist attraction, you can bet your a** that Napier can do it.”
Reactions around Napier have been mixed. Marineland advocate Clifford Church said: “I’m relieved … Arnott has finally stopped all the negative crap about Marineland. What a breathe of fresh air.” But enviro advocate Derek Williams warned: “It’s as plain as the nose on your face … GUW stinks. As if planning a new sewage plant that won’t work isn’t bad enough, now Napier City Council is wading deeper and deeper into the doo-doo just when the Regional Council is about to get tough on sewage matters.”
BayBuzz, desperately looking for something to compliment the HBRC on, believes they might be on to something here.
P.S. Flash: Il Duce Arnott has just phoned BayBuzz to emphasize that Phase 2 of the plan, which involves constructing a dike, complete with sea gates, from Cape Kidnappers across the Bay to Mahia will “absolutely not” proceed unless Sam Kelt raises the required $1.2 billion from private funders. “I think of this as handsome payback for the $3 million he’s sucking out of Napier City Council for the
Hastings Regional Sports Park,” she said.
P.P.S. Have you checked out the new features at our BayBuzz website?