PARKING: Last month we commented on the delight of finding free two hour parking in Downtown Rotorua. Our Bay of Plenty Times of June 5 2014 at Page 6 has another article about Downtown Tauranga parking – “free parking could come to the rescue of Tauranga’s downtown to help stem the downward spiral caused by building owners being forced into earthquake upgrades..” Unfortunately the downtown area is also the victim of the “doughnut” effect – businesses moving out of traditional village main street areas into modern malls and shopping centres. Downtown Tauranga has been going down for a number of years and the debate about free parking has gone on for as long as the perceived decline. Some years ago I suggested we keep the exterior of vacant spaces clean and use the windows for static displays of art and community information. Last year several of us floated the idea of The Window Project – bringing art to the street! We can’t instantly earthquake strenghten privately owned commercial buildings but we can encourage the owners to keep their exteriors clean and make them available at no cost for static displays. It would instantly change the appearance of our bedraggled downtown area.
THE RENA: The environmental effects of the Rena were the focus of an exhibition in Tauranga last year. An application has been made for a resource consent to leave the remains of the wreck where it now lies. There is an opportunity for submissions to be made and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council has estalished a separate accessible website for this to occur, visit www.renaresourceconsent.org.nz and put your opinion forward.
PUBLIC ART: In this month’s Words we mention public art in inner City Christchurch and here in Tauranga The Hairy Maclary and Friends Waterfront Sculpture Project is now on the downhill road to financial completion. The Weekend Sun of Friday June 27 2014 has a letter to the editor suggesting that a statue of Colonel Greer, the soldier namesake of Greeton is created for the suburb. I think this is a very timely suggestion about our history and our public art. At the moment if we were planning to establish something to enhance Greerton, which seems to be a thriving and ticking part of Tauranga, I’d be looking at a permanent venue for the exhibition which was displayed in the Greerton Library as part of the Pukehinahina Commemorations. The Greerton Village is midway between the two battle and conflict sites and would make an ideal area for a specific topic “museum” . It would extend the range of visitor experience for the increasing numbers of overseas visitors. The creation of a history focus in Greerton would enable adqueate facility parking to be included in the project. It would also provide a worthwhile and interesting history trail from the Otamataha Mission Cemetery through Tauranga to Te Ranga and the Greerton Village. A journey up historic Cameron Road would include a visit round the Mission House “The Elms”, the Brain Watkins House, along the historic roadway to Pukehinahina-Gate Pa through Greerton to Te Ranga and a visit to the Tauranga history focussed “museum”. There could be guided tours or a regular bus loop with a daily set fee fare. The Auckland War Memorial Museum was originally sited well outside the Auckland CBD. The Rotorua Museum is outside the CBD. Because we live in Tauranga we may underestimate the interest such a development and a history trail would have to out of town and overseas visitors.