Let's fix the plaza

The public needs to come together on how to fix our lifeless Huatoki Plaza.
The public needs to come together on how to fix our lifeless Huatoki Plaza.

I was in Auckland last week and on Wednesday night I found myself at Britomart Country Club, a semi-temporary, ruggedly elegant garden bar in the heart of an area that used to be filled with thugs, drugs and vicious crime.

 To my knowledge, not too long ago a group of visionary business people bought the area. They were  committed to changing what was once a crime-ridden stain into a thriving retail and hospitality hub. Which got me thinking about home and our Huatoki Plaza.

 We do have great cafes, shops and commercial activity in our CBD, but something is missing - a highly used, people-orientated spot surrounded by places to dine and chillax.

There have been a lot of articles over the months about how we can improve Huatoki, to make it a true people-plaza. Ratepayers have already funded the big transformation, and surrounding businesses have given themselves a facelift. So what now? Who's going to pick up the gauntlet and take it to the next level?

Like many people, I have a vision for the Huatoki Plaza. For me, it should have had a rugged, functional elegance about, rather than an industrial-looking eyesore. It should be a place everybody feels welcome to to a part of. It should have a comfortable atmosphere, be a place to go to on your lunch break, a place to study, a place that adapts with the changing seasons, a place that has regular music,  maybe even some street theatre. The list goes on.

Ratepayers and businesses have done their part individually. How about establishing a Huatoki Group, similar to the Britomart Group in Auckland? Where businesses, individuals and stakeholders all share a passionate interest in maintaining, adapting and evolving the area to attract people?

Yeah, sure, New Plymouth is a small city by comparison, but surely hard-working, creative Taranakians   can be inspired by looking at what other places are doing, and translating what they see into what we have here. The foreshore, Puke Ariki, Pukekura Park, are just a few incredible examples of the things we are capable of. Surely it wouldn't take too much effort to evolve the Huatoki Plaza?

I for one would be incredibly pissed if nothing happens soon. Don't let those millions of ratepayer dollars and cents go to waste!

Next week, I will be profiling a successful local, as a result of last week's call-out for a face-off.