Work has finished on the updgrade to Williamson Park. What was the plan? Over the past 10 years the use of Williamson park has grown substantially with the park providing a platform for a significant number of events over the Christmas period and into the shoulder months. The well-loved park has been rejuvenated by the following: Removing up to 100 of the old pine trees Planting native coastal trees throughout the park. Building a new boardwalk along the dunes in front of the Surf Club area Building three large shade structures while new trees grow Realigning the road to create more open space Redesigning carparking for ease and safety Opening up new pedestrian areas and improving access to the beach. Installing new lights for added security. What was the timeframe? The construction work began in June 2016 with landscaping along the beach front and construction of the boardwalk. Also in June, removal of some of the old pine trees began. Replacement native trees were planted throughout the park to provide natural shade where the pines have been cut. In September, work began to realign the road. This aspect of the upgrade has increased the entertainment space in the reserve and allowed for more formalised car parks. Final planting took place in October and all the work was finished in November. Why do this now? Williamson Park is experiencing a significant increase in visitor numbers and events which not only help fuel our local economy but have put pressure on the park in its current state. A risk assessment recently undertaken by a qualified arborist triggered the decision to take action at the park to make it safer, the opportunity was also taken at the same time to plan for the future. Important historical consideration: Williamson Park was gifted to the Thames County Council on 11 June 1929 by the Williamson family. The terms of the transfer state that the park is to be used for the recreation of the general public and that it is never to be allowed to become a commercial or residential area. As part of the condition of transfer it was suggested that a limited amount of trading be allowed on the park grounds, with the suggestion of a small building to be erected to sell refreshments and offer surfboard hire. Who pays? Thames-Coromandel District Council approved the use of $780,000 from Whangamata's Neighbourhood Reserves Fund for this project. This means that the money for this project has already been raised and therefore the ratepayers of Whangamata will not have to pay anything further toward the project. Early consultation Consultation first began in April 2015 with the key users of the park (Surf Lifesaving Club, Blackies, Whangamata Summer Festival, Beach Hop and Brits at the Beach). In addition we met on a number of occasions with nearby residents. The people who took part in the consultation provided valuable suggestions which have been included in the concept that you can see. Public consultation People were invited to have a look at the concept and give their feedback between 2 October and 6 November 2015. All suggestions and comments have been considered by the project team (Project Manager Ross Ashby and Whangamata Area Manager Garry Towler from our Council, the Whangamata Community Board and key park users including Blackies Cafe, the Surf Life Saving Club, the Beach Hop organisers and Brits at the Beach organisers).