The Junction – The $0 Park

January 21, 2015 by  
Filed under Blog

Before and After Symonds Street

Auckland Transport purchased the land at 257 Symonds Street for the CRL project. The land was to be used for the Newton Train Station but this was moved to Mt Eden to save $150m and allow for grade separation of the track at Mt Eden Station. The land has been kept as part of the project because there is uncertainty if the land will be need for air ducting or construction.

As the Waitemata Local Board representative on the UpTown Business Association, representing 950 businesses in the area, I have been involved in the local area planning consultation which includes what to do with the land at 257 Symonds Street and the neighbouring property which is the Chinese Community Centre.

In November last year I approached Auckland Transport asking what they were doing with the vacant land at 257 Symonds Street with the idea to turn it into a public space. The project has been split into two parts, the initial phase is to open the space into a pocket park and the second is to ask the public what they want and find local residents who would like to help deliver the project. The key principles for the site is that everyone has access and that there is no cost to Council.

In less than two months leading up to Christmas we were able to develop an initial design to revitalise the area, sort sponsorship to pay for the entirety of the project, earth works undertaken by contractors, and coordinated a volunteer day with the community. There has been overwhelmingly positive feedback to the new pocket park and the community have already started to assist with watering the garden and providing feedback into stage two of the site development.

This has truly been a project for the community by the community:

  • Phantom Billboards came to the party by paying two years in advance for the advertising rights which has covered the design, earthwork and building costs to date of $36,000. Phantom Billboards pulling down their tired advertising panels which had become a major eyesore on the Symonds Street Mainstreet. This is a very exciting partnership which has enabled us to build a temporary park for the community at no cost to Council.
  • Auckland Transport contracted the design work, signed off with AT board and contractors to landscape the area in preparation for the volunteers. This occurred in one month.
  • UpTown Business Association supports the project and local business Bamboo Kitchen provided free lunch on the volunteer day.
  • The Rotaract Club of Auckland lead the volunteering with Auckland Transport
  • Around 30 volunteers with included local residents, business owners, the Waitemata Local Board and the chairman of the Business Association.
  • The volunteer day involved building planter boxes (using the wood from my election signs), laying the walkway and seeding hundreds of wildflower seeds down the bank.

Group photo3

There are two parts to the project:

Stage 1

To build and maintain a small pocket park over summer until the community confirm what they want to achieve for the entire site, with the key principles FOR EVERYONE, FOR FREE! There is a community notice board in the pocket park and people can post up ideas. They key suggestions to date are community gardens and some entertainment space such as outdoor cinema and/or music.

Stage 2

Once the community have agreed on what to do with the site we are seeking local residents to get involved in building and maintaining the park.

The space will be temporary available for the residents until the CRL project can determined if the land is required for the project.

The Auckland Council has spent millions of dollars acquiring properties throughout the inner-city with no guarantee of the timeline to deliver the CRL project. We need to make hay while the sun shines and we can’t wait around to see these sites rot away.

Many of the businesses in UpTown are unsure of their future with the billion dollar CRL project bearing down on them. There is general support for the CRL project because of the long-term benefits to rejuvenate this part of town, but the reality is in the short term that the project will be hugely disruptive. The Junction pocket park is an opportunity for the public to get involved in helping shape the areas future.

Post your idea on the community notice board today!

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