There are several projects and organisations around the town centre that have been impacted by the Auckland Council Emergency Budget.
Multipurpose Community Centre and Library
In a report to the community the day before the current COVID19 crisis, the multi-purpose community centre, library, and associated town square have had a short delay due to the first lockdown but are still basically on track. Panuku was getting design partners on board and plans to work on design with community input early in 2021. Continued progress on this key project is a huge relief, given all the budget cuts.
Former 3 Guys site
Council is trying to progress the development of the old 3 Guys site. There are discussions with other landowners including Kainga Ora and private developers. With several developments in the pipeline, Panuku are keen to get the mix of housing types right for the area. In the meantime, there is still room for activations using the vacant site.
Crayford Street West
Planning for the renewal and streetscaping of this area has been progressing slowly though the hoops of getting everything ticked off. It has now been deferred for at least twelve months due to budget constraints.
Fixing the slippery bricks
After years of delay, there was agreement to proceed earlier this year. Then in August came the heart-stopping announcement that due to budget cuts, footpath replacement was being deferred. After an outcry, Auckland Transport (AT) and Whau Local Board (WLB) recently met to find a way forward and permanently fix this health and safety issue. As we went to print there were indications that a resolution was imminent, but the announcement was coming after the Beacon deadline.
So how did we get to this point? A couple of years ago, the nearby Blockhouse Bay village footpaths were deemed to have an inadequate friction coefficient and seemingly overnight the contractors appeared. Two weeks later all the asphalt and brick paving had been replaced with exposed aggregate concrete. The surface is not pretty but it is very safe. Meanwhile it seemed that every time it rained people were being hurt on the Avondale pavers. Many people, especially seniors, refused to go into the shopping centre on wet days.
This saga has dragged on for years, and finally in 2019 the WLB found a way forward in partnership with AT. This was enabled by a proposal to use the Whau Transport Capital Fund to make up the shortfall. WLB members Susan Zhu and Catherine Farmer voted against this proposal as they wanted the project to be fully funded by AT.
At the 4 December 2019 WLB meeting there was a presentation by Michelle Burstall requesting WLB to expedite fixing the slippery bricks. Michelle is one of many who have fallen on the pavers and she still suffers from breaking her tailbone in the accident five years ago. Many WLB members were new on the job after the election. They voted to delay a decision for two months to get a better understanding of the project. Then COVID19 struck. The $57m transport fund that is shared across the 21 Local Boards got cut to $5m in the emergency budget, effectively removing WLB’s contribution.
Many were wondering about the impact of COVID-19 on the funding for this project. After initially staying silent, AT indicated in August that the Avondale project would be deferred indefinitely. This sent shockwaves through the community and brought out new determination to find a way to protect people from the hazardous footpaths. As we went to print, WLB was saying that progress had been made and an announcement was likely.
Comments from the public
Joan: Have had many slips and falls on these bricks. Once I was walking along on the curb stones so I would not be on the bricks and I tripped and fell hitting my jaw as I went down. Ended up shearing the enamel of the front of four teeth and compacting 6 others.
Karen: Yep. I slipped and fell over twice while walking on [those] slippery bricks.
Kristina: Before my 15-year-old son was born I still remember falling over and tipping the pram when walking to the bus stop. He was 3 months then. Lucky he was a little football rolled up in blankets
Kanchan: I also slipped on the very same tiles you mentioned though I was walking very cautiously on them. It was raining and I slipped and hurt myself. I have had two knee replacements and was worried I would have some serious problems. This happened February 2020. They really should do something about it. It isn't worth causing so much pain.