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Te Puke Times - 2021-06-10

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Makeover urged for ‘helicopter pad’

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Stuart Whitaker news@tepuketimes.co.nz

It has become known — no so affectionately — as the “helicopter pad”. The open area on Jellicoe St in front of My Pharmacy and Te Puke Jewellers was created as part of the town beautification project in the latter part of 2016 and early 2017. At last week’s Te Puke Community Board meeting, two of the town’s retailers put forward their ideas to make the space more vibrant and user-friendly. Te Puke Florist owner Murray Howell and Lisa Rowe from My Pharmacy spoke during the meeting’s public forum. Murray said he felt the “helicopter pad” was in need of some attention. “It’s an area lacking in interest that doesn’t invite anything to happen there,” he said. Murray said it was a lovely walk from Jubilee Park through the Heritage Walkway. “But then you turn the corner into that space and it’s gone, you’ve lost it.” He would like to see the pleasantness of the walkway carried through into the plaza and for it to be somewhere inviting and relaxing where people would be happy to sit and chat. He suggested planting and a sculpture incorporating some of the district’s stories, its people and the importance of the kiwifruit industry. Lisa said she thought it would be possible to repurpose the seating and soften the area with planting. She said the seating currently on the edge of the road wasn’t in a place that would make people feel safe. ”You could lift some of the pavers and plant something like nikau palms. It would add atmosphere to the area because at the moment it’s very hard and very cold.” She said it might be possible to include a pavilion similar to those in the Heritage Walkway and include a kiwifruit vine in their design. “It is a big area and there are a lot of food outlets around that people can go to, then go there.” Murray said the plaza could have been, but wasn’t, made a core centre point for the town when the refurbishment took place. He speculated the kiwifruit industry could contribute by sponsoring a sculpture and the possibility of planters could be explored. Both Murray and Lisa said they were simply putting forward ideas to be worked on. Lisa said she wasn’t worried by the short-term disruption the work could cause if there were long-term benefits. Board chairman Richard Crawford thanked them and said: “It’s good to see the creative juices flowing.” Councillor Grant Dally said in the past it had been suggested the size of the plaza be reduced to allow more parking on Jellicoe St. It seems Te Puke Community Board is going to have to lower its sights on plans to create a footpath from Jellicoe St to Manoeka Rd. The board had agreed to build the footpath on Te Puke Quarry Rd for people walking to the Eastpack packhouse and then on to Manoeka Rd. Initial cost estimates for the work had been $300,000. Western Bay of Plenty Council roading engineer east Stuart Harvey told last week’s community board meeting he had sought a safety engineer’s views and, as a result, the estimated cost had blown out to between $700,000 and $900,000. “It’s primarily because it is a highspeed rural road,” he said. That would mean extensive work to keep the footpath a safe distance from the road. Stuart said it was not possible to look at reducing the speed on the road as it would be several years before the next district-wide speed limit review. He said there would be savings if a bridge over the Raparapahoe Stream was not part of the plan, but the safety engineer felt that without the bridge, there would be question marks over the safety of pedestrians. He suggested an alternative might be to build a footpath as far as the packhouse and estimated that could cost under $100,000. “That would be good for the packhouse but [the path] was [also] for the people of Manoeka,” said board deputy chairman Tupaea Rolleston. “I’d like to see the costings because it is for the people of Manoeka,” said board member Dale Snell. “I don’t think we should give up on the connection to Manoeka.” Board members also wanted two street lights to be installed. Chairman Richard Crawford said the board didn’t have the funds to meet the additional cost, but it would be possible to build the first part of the footpath as far as the packhouse, calling it stage one. “This is way above the means of the board at this stage but is within our means to do stage one. “At least if we do up to Eastpack it will be of great benefit to workers making their way to Eastpack and that’s a positive.” Stuart undertook to approach Eastpack to ask about them contributing to the cost of the footpath.

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