Here’s an overview of what our volunteer Community-Led Design group has been doing recently and how we would like to see the Ponsonby Park project progress whilst under Council’s Emergency budget constraints, as imposed by COVID-19.
Unfortunately, Ponsonby Park has been temporarily delayed by COVID-19-related funding shortfalls. Ponsonby Park as the Waitematā Local Board’s ‘One Local Initiative (OLI)’, was scheduled to obtain funding approval at the Finance and Performance Committee meeting on Thursday 19th March. But the published agenda was set aside in order to address the implications of the COVID-19 outbreak – a necessity our Community-Led Design group understands and fully supports.
Council has actively sought ways to ensure all of the long-awaited and needed community projects in the OLI collection are achieved.
We promoted that Ponsonby Park be included in the long-list of ‘shovel ready’ projects drawn up by Council for consideration by Government as suitable infrastructure projects to help re-boot the economy. Ponsonby Park filled the requirements of creating jobs, supporting key trades, and providing real public benefit.
Unfortunately, it did not make the short-list.
The Waitematā Local Board has recently undertaken Phase two of its 3-year budget consultation. In a recent presentation to the Local Board, we requested that they join with our Community-Led Design group in seeking that work continue to progress through the ‘Design and Planning’ stage. This makes practical and financial sense. The momentum for the development is maintained, jobs are created without committing the full Capex, and the community is recognised for all of the ongoing support and effort they have put into the project to date.
It was 20 years ago that the need for Ponsonby Park was first identified and 14 years since the site was purchased for the purpose of fulfilling this community need. The Waitematā Local Board initiated the ‘Community-Led Design’ process 5 years ago.
We understand that these are extraordinary times and that we need to ‘cut our coat according to our cloth’. So we also propose that Ponsonby Park, although delayed in the immediate future, be provided with a meaningful and symbolic physical presence on Ponsonby Road in the interim. That a portion of the site at 254 Ponsonby Road be made available for the community and beautified, as a place for people to meet, gather, rest, and relax – until the project can be fully completed. Exactly what this might look like would need to be determined, but we don’t envision it involving the existing buildings. This would be a tangible progression for the community that recognises their ongoing commitment to this project.
The vision for Ponsonby Park has always been of a place for people to gather; to rest, relax, and recreate. A place to meet new people or catch up with old friends or to simply spend some time to chill and take a moment. These valued outcomes are even more important now. We need a place to come together, to have the common ground and public space where both optimism and resilience can be nurtured and sustained.
Ponsonby Park is this place.