Mayor says ‘no’ to talks

WORKING HARD: Contractor Pete Cavanagh works to clear the debris in the tidal pool.

Messy tidal pool saga continues

WHAKATANE Mayor Tony Bonne has declined a request for a meeting by a member of the community to point out what he considers failures in the design and location of the tidal pool at Wairaka Centennial Park. Sandy Milne has been a vocal opponent of the tidal pool since it was unveiled at the upgraded park, penning several letters to the editor and sending numerous emails to Beacon reporters.

Mr Milne has taken regular photos of items in the tidal pool and he questions the cost of ongoing work to clear the debris. His opposition centres on the fact that he believes sand and debris, including logs, dead fish and other items, collect in the pool and present a health and safety risk to children as well as carers.

“On February 6, I visited the kiddies pool just after 6am to film Pete Cavanagh, the contractor who has the job of cleaning the pool, and his helper. “They arrived to see tonnes of logs and debris, and I witnessed their frenzied activity as they tried to clear the pool before their 9am deadline.

Early rising spectators tried to help guide the tractors drivers, Pete and Elsie, as they worked too swiftly drag out large logs, which were then hurriedly cut up with their Husky chainsaw.

They then had to scramble through the muck in the pool, dragging out the smaller logs and plastic debris and fish frames etc. “They were still at it when I left at 9.30am. They could do no more in the pool and had to leave it in a totally unusable state …Pete and Elsie have being going through this routine most days since January 5 or earlier.”

Mr Milne said he objected to “paying hundreds of dollars daily to the contractor to clean up the Whakatane River, when, with proper planning and a pool two metres higher and filled with town water supply, maintainance costs would be near zero.

“I consider the pool to be a health and safety risk for the contractors, and more importantly, our youngest children.  This is a disgrace.” Last week, Mr Milne sent an email to Mr Bonne, councillor Andrew Iles and chief executive Marty Grenfell requesting a meeting to discuss the pool and recommended it be decommissioned.

However, Mr Bonne declined the request for the meeting and informed Mr Milne that the council was aware of some ongoing issues with the facility but was working to rectify them. “There is no need for a meeting as the issues are well known and any solutions are likely to be technical.

There are a number of engineers and contractors who have already spoken to council and given their thoughts.” Whakatane District Council public affairs manager Ross Boreham said costs of maintaining the area was included in the overall annual reserve budgets. “Most of the work undertaken in the area subsequent to the park opening was part of the original project scope and is included in the project budget.”

However, Mr Boreham said changes to the tidal pool steps and additional handrails were undertaken at the request of users. He said the cost of the upgrade was $890,000, with community funding agencies and other donors covering about 25 percent of the project.