Submitters to the Central Otago District Council's Long Term Plan will be pleased planning is now well underway for Cromwell's new hall. Many favoured a community-led approach to the project and a clear message to get going was given. Trish Copland(left) and Jocelyn Johnston were among about 65 who contributed in person at the hearings in May.
It may have taken 20 years to decide how to replace Cromwell’s aged hall but the Cromwell Community Board are stepping on the gas now the design and build stage is finally here.
The message from the community through recent Long-Term Plan consultation was a loud and clear “get on with it” and the board have responded by setting a July 2022 deadline for construction work to start on the $31.5M project, located off Melmore Terrace.
Central Otago District Council’s property and facilities manager, Garreth Robinson, outlined a plan to get planning work underway as quickly as possible, led by a four-strong Advisory Group. He is joined on the group, which held its first meeting last month, by council’s executive manager for planning and environment, Louise van de Voort, Board chair Anna Harrison and Cr Nigel McKinlay.
Four Cromwell organisations were initially identified by the new Advisory Group to form a second ‘external stakeholders’ group, through an invite-only process. A fifth, the Cromwell RSA was then added by the Board during their online meeting on Tuesday. The five organisations would be asked to nominate one member, who fitted “specific skill-set” requirements, to give feedback.
Mayor Tim Cadogan expressed concern at the meeting that by keeping the external stakeholder group small and by invitation, the planning process for the long-awaited facility could be perceived as “a closed shop”.
“We don’t know what we don’t know. There may be people out there who are not connected with the groups who are being looked at as direct users of the hall, who have a great deal to offer.”
Deputy chair Werner Murray suggested casting a wider net for input could spark new interest if a more open recruitment process were followed.
Others felt the named organisations would be bring many views and be sufficient for the external group. It was resolved to invite input from the Cromwell Town and Country Club, Cromwell Cultural Centre Trust, Fine Thyme Theatre Company, Cromwell Museum and Cromwell RSA.
The first four had been contacted prior to the board approving the plan, Louise van de Voort told the board, and all were “very enthusiastic about being on a group”.
“Whoever we get on this group doesn’t preclude further conversations and targeted discussions. The important thing is the balance between getting the right views through the planning stage so we get the right design, against expediating the project,” she said.
Business Owners to Give Mall Input
A similar planning process is underway for the $42M redevelopment of the Cromwell Mall area and board member Werner Murray was nominated to join Louise van de Voort and Garreth Robinson on that project’s Advisory Group.
A district councillor would be added to the group by the CODC, while an existing Mall Upgrade Group consisting of business owners would perform the external stakeholder role during the two-year design phase, Tuesday’s meeting heard.
Demolition of buildings was anticipated, although not the library and service centre building as had earlier been proposed by council.
The focus of the town’s commercial and retail development is favoured within the existing town centre and the council has lodged a submission emphasizing this to a government panel who are currently considering an application by Wooing Tree Estate to develop a commercial centre across the main highway, as part of a new subdivision.
Above: September's Community Board meeting fell on the last day of a Level 3 Covid-19 Lockdown. The council set up live-streaming and meetings all continued to avoid delays. Georgie Affleck(above right) appeared via video link to present Connect Cromwell's disc golf plan during a public forum.
New Sport Course Approved
A new social and sporting activity – albeit smaller than requested - was given approval for Anderson Park and surrounds by the Board.
Disc golf is being bought to Cromwell by Connect Cromwell, a government-funded Community-Led Development group, who will source funds for the project. Once complete the nine ‘hole’ course will be gifted to the community and maintained by the Central Otago District Council.
Speaking at an online meeting of the Board, Connect Cromwell facilitator Georgie Affleck explained that players threw a side plate-sized disc from each ‘tee’ into a chain basket or ’hole’.
There were fifty courses across New Zealand, six of these in the Queenstown Lakes area, but none in Central Otago. Tournaments were popular, she said, but the main aim was to create a way for people to connect with friends and neighbours and enjoy Cromwell’s outdoor spaces through a wider range activities.
Considerable research had been done into the sport, she said, as well as a local survey in which the majority of respondents indicated they would either “like to” or “maybe like to” try the sport.
She acknowledged there could be impacts on other park users and trees but believed this would be minimal as an experienced course designer had been sourced to ensure safe flight paths.
The group favoured an 18-hole course to secure Cromwell a place on the NZ Disc Golf tour route and encourage visitors to the town. A recent tour event in Twizel had attracted 120 competitors and entries had sold out within 24 hours, Georgie said.
Left: Disc Golf chain basket or "hole".
An 18-hole course could cost between twenty to forty thousand dollars depending on the level of design sophistication, with nine holes about half that.
The Board however felt beginning with a shorter course would have less impact and would allow people to adjust to its presence, with the possibility of more holes being later added.
Parks and Recreation Manager Gordon Bailey told the meeting he supported the project but that care should be taken with placement of holes as some greenways were quite narrow and acted as a thoroughfare for people. The board favoured the holes being away from busy areas such as the rose garden and carparks. Park tenants, adjacent residents and the public would have opportunity to discuss the new sport with council prior to any installation.
Competition for Funds Anticipated
Future funding for Cromwell’s most popular community events may be harder to come by after a new council policy contributed to the Cromwell Community Board declining an application on Tuesday.
The Board have long supported the Cromwell & Districts Promotion Group(CDPG) who, along with year-round marketing work, run Light Up Winter, a Street Party and Fireworks event at the Cromwell Heritage Precinct, Summer Series sports, cherry fruit and Christmas celebrations. A new policy requiring the CCB to make promotional funding contestable, allowing others more chances to secure local government funds for new or existing initiatives, as well as a lack of detail in the CDPG’s future budgets, prompted the application not being approved, Tuesday’s meeting heard. The lack of budget detail had occurred due to confusion over council’s application requirements, CDPG chairperson Carolyn Murray told the board.
The Board approved funds for the remaining 9 month period of this financial year but declined money applied for to cover events and promotional work from 2022 to 2024.
Carolyn said the group had had some success in seeking sponsorship as earlier requested by the board but that alternative funding sources would not be enough for the group to continue its work.
“Without CCB funding our funds would be exhausted and our group would very quickly become financially unviable, or we would be required to cancel much-loved community events.”
The Board invited the group to re-apply for future funding and suggested Cromwell’s website could be incorporated into Tourism Central Otago’s new digital portal to “avoid duplication of tasks and costs to ratepayers”.
Trade-off for Tarras Trail
Cycle trail networks are now extending into Tarras with a swop arrangement paving the way for development through the Lindis Crossing area. The board this week approved to legally ‘stop’ a small area of unnamed, unformed road and hand it to a landowner whose house partly occupied it, in exchange for access for the trail across another part of the property.
The swop had been negotiated by the Central Otago Queenstown Trails Network Trust who are creating a world-class cycling network set to be over 500km long once completed, according to a CODC report.
A recording of the full CCB meeting is available on the Central Otago District Council website.
All Community Board meetings are required to be held in public. Anyone can attend when they are held in person or listen in when they are online. Input is only permitted during the public forum session usually at the start of the meeting.
#This report was compiled as part of Connect Cromwell’s Public-Interest Journalism Project. Replication is permitted but we do ask that the source is acknowledged.