Board signs off on funding priorities

Leigh skate park looks set to move around the corner to Puriri Avenue, with plans for a new purpose-built park for the community.

Rodney Local Board has signed off on its customer and community services work programme and budget for 2023/24, its annual core to-do spending list of priorities and projects.

The multi-million dollar schedule includes ongoing repairs, maintenance, facility upgrades, running costs, refurbishment and leases, plus future projects and, this year, responding to storm damage.

This unexpected drain on resources includes damaged toilets, tracks, pathways and assets such as drains, fencing and pontoons, with $55,000 earmarked for this financial year, but has an estimated total of $820,000 needed by mid-2027.

Storm damage assessments also revealed the need to replace the footbridge and walkway along the Mahurangi River in Warkworth, where it goes under the road bridge between Queen Street and the Bridgehouse.

Some of the other major projects listed in this year’s work programme include the development of a new local park for Leigh, where play equipment and the skate park will be relocated from the school field, off Cumberland Street, to the reserve on the corner of Puriri and Ferndale Avenues.

Council said the new park project, which has an estimated total cost of nearly $995,000, would include installation of furniture, pathways and landscaping, and development of a concept plan and design is due by the end of this financial year.

Play equipment will also be on the move in Te Hana, where the board wants to relocate the existing playground into Te Hana reserve, close to the hall and toilets. There are also plans to install a half pipe skate ramp and furniture, and re-mark the basketball court for older kids. The project could cost almost $650,000 and will be out for design this year.

Wellsford has managed to account for both the priciest and cheapest projects in the board’s north Rodney capital expenditure for the next three years, with almost $2,587,975 slated for improvements at Centennial Park, including renewing the carpark, lighting, toilet and changing room block, tennis courts, cricket nets, pitches, storage and play equipment, and relocating the netball courts and lighting. At the other end of the scale, just over $5,600 has been allocated for improving the southern entrance to the skate park off Hazelmere Street, to allow easier maintenance.

And there are big plans for Bourne Dean Recreation Reserve at Kaipara Flats over the next few years, with a scheme to renew the play space, including investigation of wheel play and fitness station options, renewal of the petanque court, carpark and furniture. There are also plans to look at providing external access to the Ranfurly Hall toilets, plus a perimeter pathway network. The works could cost more than $900,000 if they go ahead, with the local board expected to consider a concept plan this year.

Funding for the work programme comes mainly from the board’s almost $25 million annual budget, plus a number of specialist council funds, developer contributions and outside sources.

Speaking at the board’s monthly meeting on July 19, Auckland Council work programme lead Angie Bennett said the programme and its prioritisation had been discussed at length with members via a series of workshops, held between May and June.

While many services and projects are under pressure due to council’s $375 million deficit, Bennett said capital expenditure had not been cut back as yet. Although activities for 2023/2024 can be covered by this year’s budget and staff resources, future years may be subject to change, in the case of increased costs, inflation or further budget cuts.