Residents to voice ideas for towns

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 08:00 19/01/2013

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Residents from two Manawatu towns are set to hear plans on how the place they call home will be improved next week, although not all residents are convinced it'll be for the best.

Halcombe and Sanson are the first towns to benefit from Manawatu District Council's community planning project, an initiative encouraging teamwork between the council and community members to make improvements in their towns.

Residents aired their ideas at public meetings in November, providing a springboard for draft documents to be drawn up by a council-appointed project manager.

These plans will be presented back to Halcombe's residents on Wednesday and Sanson's on Thursday.

Halcombe resident Rachel Lane said giving smaller communities the opportunity to voice their ideas was great.

"It's just wicked that they're zeroing in on each smaller region, instead being like, ‘yeah, this is the big Manawatu plan'."

Most of Halcombe's brainstorming has been very realistic, she said, with some "blue sky" ideas cropping up.

"You start off really conservative, because you're worried about how are we going to do it and how much it's going to cost, but then you push the boat out a bit, before bringing it back to reality."

However, Sanson community committee chairwoman Donny Wilson is not sold on the project because of how it'll affect the community long-term.

"Our town is the showcase of the Manawatu District Council, for the majority of people who visit this end of the country we are the only town people will go through, that's why we call ourselves the gateway of the Manawatu.

"So, yes, I would like to see the town looked after, and beautified, and made an enjoyable place for people to want to stop. But, if it is going to be at the cost of people who live here, it's not going to be manageable."

Mrs Wilson said there had been a lot of brainstorming within the community, but a lot of it was "grandiose ideas". "I think they can put this plan together, but whether or not the residents are willing to cope with the increase in rates to cover it, and it will increase rates drastically, is yet to be seen."

Council community services group manager Brent Limmer said the project supported communities, helped them build vision for their towns and aided them in making improvements. The projects, which are entirely community driven but council supported, range from upgrading a main street to a one-off planting to beautify the cemetery walkway.

More Manawatu towns are set to follow suit with Apiti, Rangiwahia, Kimbolton and Himatangi Beach collecting ideas for improvements soon and Rongotea and Pohangina starting next year.

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Halcombe's public meeting is being held at the Halcombe Memorial Hall on Wednesday at 7pm.

Sanson's meeting is at the Sanson Community Hall on Thursday at 7pm.

- Manawatu Standard

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