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Phil Raffills on Auckland Parks

Opinion

This week's column is written by Mount Roskill-Avondale Ward Councillor Phil Raffills, chairman of the Parks and Recreation Committee.

Have you taken a walk in your local park recently? With over 800 parks and reserves, there is bound to be one close to you. This is a great time of the year to be out - being refreshed in a rural setting, without ever leaving the city!

I have been frequenting One Tree Hill Domain and Cornwall Park with my wife, and we love the tranquillity of the paddocks, semi-tame sheep and cattle, and the spring explosion of daffodils and tree buds. One appreciates God's creation when one takes time to relax in it.

Auckland is growing rapidly. As the city grows, so must the provision of open space, and that's the work of the Parks and Recreation Committee.

I enjoy chairing this Committee. For one thing, the agenda seldom stirs political posturing, and most importantly, it is providing recreation facilities for all Aucklanders.

Money for new parks doesn't just come from rates. In fact, rates are used to maintain parks rather than to make purchases. The 1991 Resource Management Act allows councils to collect financial contributions from new developments to pay for new open space, and develop existing reserves.

In the 1998/99 financial year, council received $9.5 million from financial contributions from this source. 60% of that is spent within the Ward where the development is located, and the other 40% goes towards citywide projects. Currently members of the Parks and Recreation Committee, and professional staff are dealing with the development of about 20 parks. These include:-

Hillsborough Premier Park This is probably the most exciting development in the city with the proposed purchase of about 20 hectares of the most beautiful, undulating, well-treed and grassed parkland. Already some purchases have been concluded, and development is under way. The two schools situated on the fringe of the new park will remain, and no doubt will benefit from the development.

Western Park The plans to restore Auckland City's oldest park are also well under way. A major feature of this project will be the addition of grander entrance and access ways.

Heron Park This has been transformed from a polluted 10 hectares on the Avondale waterfront to a quiet park for walking and organised sport.

Basque Park Congratulations to John Waide, a local resident who is the nicest, most polite lobbyist I have ever met. He is owed a debt of gratitude for his persistence in lobbying to retain all of Basque Park as open space. The Committee unanimously supported this view, and development of this small but significant inner city park is being planned.

Parks are for people .. enjoy them!

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