The reasons for sprucing up the Nelson waterfront gained more impetus with an announcement last night that the city could play a part in a future pre-America's Cup event.
Nelson Mayor Aldo Miccio said at the Theatre Royal last night, where he and colleague Councillor Pete Rainey unveiled a concept plan for an upgrade to a part of the waterfront, that he had forwarded Nelson for consideration in a plan for regional involvement in the America's Cup.
New Zealand does, of course, have to win it first, which might happen as early as next week.
Mr Miccio told last night's audience, made up of members of the public, several councillors and a few election candidates, that he had spoken with Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development which is considering events around the country if the Cup comes back to New Zealand.
The plan would be to have certain areas host pre-America's Cup regattas, and Nelson was well suited, Mr Miccio said.
The mayor and Mr Rainey fronted questions last night after attracting criticism this week for holding a private function to launch the Haven Precinct, which was essentially a council project.
Mr Miccio said this week that only he and Mr Rainey had seen the drawings, when challenged by colleagues Paul Matheson and Eric Davy, who lodged a complaint with the electoral officer.
Almost $4000 of council funds have been spent on drafting the concept, but architects Irving Smith and Jack had donated a lot of time to the project, Mr Miccio said.
"Most of the work has been voluntary. It was done on a minimal council budget," he said.
Architects Andrew Irving and Jeremy Smith unveiled the concept, which seeks to create a corridor for walkers and cyclists behind buildings on a pivotal headland, which is currently a difficult pinchpoint.
Mr Irving described it as a "fulcrum" that separated the town from the coast.
The area in focus is the site previously occupied by the Four Seasons business and Reliance Engineering, alongside the Anchor Building and the Customhouse Hotel. It could also be opened up for retail, hospitality and recreation opportunities, while also increasing parking availability.
The council last year spent $2.4 million on the two sites with the aim of being able to use them to extend its city-to-the-sea project.
Mr Miccio and Mr Rainey refused to confirm last night if the council was negotiating to buy the Anchor Building, which is a heritage building. They said the Customhouse, also a heritage building, was privately owned but was on Port Nelson land.
The port company has agreed to a boundary shift to allow the pathway around the back of the buildings.
Mr Rainey, who has been driving the precinct project, recently said it was based on ideas presented to the council late last year by Nelson architects and designers when they held a workshop to explore ways to develop public spaces on the waterfront.
He said last night the 2009 Heart of Nelson strategy highlighted the city-to-sea link, which would be bolstered by the Maitai River project which was about to get underway and which was set to transform the area.
- © Fairfax NZ News