2011 has been a challenging year for the Petone Community Board and 2012 promises more of the same.
Board chairman Gerald Davidson says his main policy priorities are to make progress on getting the rail link to Gracefield reopened (and thus getting logging trucks off The Esplanade), and getting a start on the rebuilding of McKenzie Pool.
Mike Fisher, who is the board’s newest member after winning a by-election in July, says he has enjoyed his first few months on the board. “It’s really been an eye-opener to see the amount of activity in the community to which we can have input. It’s been a steep learning curve. I’d like to think I’ve made an impact and have helped make a difference.”
Mr Fisher says his main priorities for 2012 are getting the McKenzie Pool replacement nailed down and the WelTec education precinct sorted – one way or another.
“It’s going to be a busy, busy year. ”
Deputy chairman Mason Branch says 2011 was a good year for Petone. “It’s been good for retailers on Jackson St. There has been a low level of crime and lots of events. Petone’s been a very vibrant place to live.”
Mr Branch has a number of priorities for 2012. “There’s money for upgrading public toilets in Petone. I’m keen for it to be spent in this year’s budget. Unfortunately, most of it appears to be earmarked for the toilets that are already pretty good. The focus should be on the grottiest toilets.”
Mr Branch also wants to move forward on replacing the McKenzie Pool. “I also want to keep the Cross Valley Link in the long-term plan. It’s had a kick in the teeth. But too many people want it for us to give up on it.”
Tui Lewis, who was first elected in 2010, says her first year on the board has been exciting. “I’ve enjoyed being out working among the community and sharing items arising on the Council’s agenda that concern Petone and her residents.”
Mrs Lewis cites the controversy over the Exide battery recycling plant and the proposal to close the McKenzie Pool as issues that galvanised the community during the year.
For 2012 Mrs Lewis wants to get a better feel what the community wants. “That will help Petone grow into an even better place for families and businesses. Petone always has lots going on – I doubt if I will have time to be bored in the new year.”
Harbour ward councillor Ross Jamieson, who is also a board member, says his aim for 2012 is to keep working with the community and ensuring Petone’s views are kept to the fore at the council table.
Other key priorities for Mr Jamieson include retaining Petone’s character, and helping to keep WelTec in Petone.