Petone beach 'embarrassing'

NICHOLAS BOYACK
Last updated 15:17 11/02/2013
Mason Branch
HUTT NEWS
O for oarsome: Mason Branch wants more art like the oars on Petone beach. He believes the beach desperately needs a co-ordinated development plan.

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Mason Branch believes we should be embarrassed by the state of Petone beach and he wants a city-wide debate on how it can be improved.

As deputy chair of the Petone Community Board, he has signalled his intention by way of a report to the board.

"If the Petone foreshore is one of the jewels in the crown, as we have all heard on numerous occasions, then why is it so drab?" he said.

In contrast, the Wellington waterfront is modern, progressive and hopeful, and is an example of what can be achieved with leadership from the council.

Visitors from Auckland stayed with him over Christmas and although they loved Jackson St, they were not impressed by the beach.

"I felt very comfortable entertaining them on Jackson St but once we came down here it just feels drab and incomplete.

"Once we'd strolled down the beach there was nothing to do."

Parts of the beach have remained unchanged for many decades. Although there have been numerous development plans, including extending the Settlers Museum and building a swimming pool, he says nothing has happened.

The council is working on a plan for a water-based sports hub on the western end of the beach. That is a great idea but we need to go further and have a plan for the entire foreshore, he said.

The eastern end is becoming increasingly popular and more toilets, seating and barbecues are needed.

He would like more public art and sculpture, beach grooming, barbecues, food vendors, and better use of the buildings. If people have a reason to visit the beach, that encourages more food vendors, which will bring more people, he said.

"One has to walk miles to get a cup of coffee in a paper cup. Surely it is time for innovative blue-sky thinking on how our waterfront can be improved, developed and enhanced."

One problem the beach has always faced is the amount of traffic on The Esplanade. The traffic cuts the beach off from residential streets and with the Cross Valley Link abandoned, that will only get worse.

The council has plans to upgrade The Esplanade to increase its capacity but Mr Branch argues the time has come to have a serious think about the CVL.

"We cannot let the CVL fall off the radar."

He hopes to create a debate and says the council needs to show some leadership.

"I am going to . . . have a good long chat with the community board and see who is enthused."

■ Is Mason Branch right or wrong. How expensive would it all be. Send your views to editor@huttnews.co.nz

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