Chill-out at Buxton toilets
Do you think that the toilet block in Buxton Square car park should be re-developed as a "chill-out zone"?
Nelson's Buxton Square at night was ''not a place for the faint-hearted'', city councillor Eric Davy warned yesterday after a suggestion the square's revamped toilet block might be a good ''chill out'' zone for youth.
Others questioned how it was they ended up considering turning public toilets into a meeting place.
Councillors Kate Fulton, Ruth Copeland and Derek Shaw wanted flexibility in the planning of the toilet block to allow for any conversion into a place for youth, and urged their colleagues to approach it as a creative solution to a problem.
A report on reducing alcohol-related harm in central Nelson was presented to the council in April.
It suggested consideration should be given to setting up ''chill out zones at high-risk times'' - spaces for intoxicated people.
A suggestion was made at a recent council meeting that an area could be incorporated into a planned redesign of the toilet block in Buxton Square.
The report also said Health Action, which holds the contract for the city's Street Ambassadors, had been asked if it would be useful to have another place for them to take breaks, such as the re-developed toilet block.
Neither Health Action nor council staff supported that idea, but if the contract for the service was to change, then having access to space in the toilet block could be useful, the report said.
Council executive manager of community services Roger Ball said the architects' view was that the space could be retrofitted, but the work fell outside the current brief and budget.
Councillor Gail Collingwood did not think the Buxton Square toilets, which have long been the location for various ''legal and illegal activities'' in central Nelson, would be an appropriate chill out space.
''It's not until you spend time hanging around Buxton car park you understand the gamut of activities that go on there,'' she said.
Councillor Paul Matheson said it wastotally inappropriate, and bizarre even, to have toilets as a gathering place.
''I don't even know how we got to a situation where we would be considering talking about this.''
Mr Davy, a retired police officer, agreed with youth councillor Travis Mills' comments at yesterday's meeting that with the loss of the New Hub a new place was needed for youth to connect, but said Buxton Square was ''completely the wrong place''.
''For those who have wandered around the city regularly, and who've tried to take control of situations after 10.30 or 11pm know it's not a place for the faint-hearted,'' Mr Davy said.
Ms Fulton said a few of hercolleagues had missed the essence of the argument, which was about creating a space in an area which had high numbers of youth. eThe council should be taking every opportunity to create ''vibrancy'', and an opportunity existed to create something similar to what Fashion Island had done with its cafe.
Mrs Copeland wanted to be part of a council that took a proactive approach to problems.
''I'm surprised we're cutting off creativity here. We seem to be very limited in our thinking.''
Councillor Rachel Reese said a critical part of the staff report was around compatible use, and there was nothing compatible in what was being suggested.
''There is an urgent need to make sure we have a replacement for the Hub, but this idea is selling the youth of this city short,'' Ms Reese said.
Nelson Bays area commander Inspector Steve Greally told the Nelson Mail the area around Buxton Square on Friday and Saturday nights had been the site of probelems with violence for some time.
He would not like to see recent efforts by police to reduce problems offset by initiatives which possibly '‘had not been thought through in their entirety’’.
The police would support any move that reduced victimisation in the city, but care was needed not to exacerbate the problem, Mr Greally said.
The council agreed to support the concept plans for the toilets, but not to allow for conversion options.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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