Last week community members, Hastings district councillors and council staff gathered at Ellwood Function Centre to nut out some details of a plan for improvements that’s the culmination of a number of years of collaborative work.
Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said it was a really worthwhile and productive opportunity to talk over the issues, and share plans and ideas together.
“We had tables laid out with information on them and everybody was able to see the details of what was happening and ask questions of council staff, which gave them confidence in the process and that we had taken their concerns seriously.”
The call for the improvements was included in the development of the Waipatu Community Plan, which was launched in 2016 and identified traffic and safety initiatives among other activities as being beneficial for the wider community.
A key focus was making the road corridor alongside Waipatu Marae safer, particularly for children in the area.
Waipatu Marae committee deputy chairperson Waiora Rogers said the gathering last week was an excellent opportunity to find out more about the overall proposed works and get questions answered.
The works include speed calming and other safety measures on SH51 near Waipatu Marae, Otene
Rd, Bennett Rd and Ruahapia Rd.
A plan is also being developed to address flooding on the footpath alongside SH51, and to explore opportunities for additional footpaths in the area.
Unison and Chorus have already begun undergrounding cables ahead of installing more and improved street lighting.
The council recently secured $6m of Central Government funding support for the project, which Mrs Rogers is hopeful will make the area a lot safer in general, particularly for children walking the road to catch school buses.
“We started this by putting in submissions about the speed and the bigger picture including the footpaths.
“Initially there were some hard questions being asked but over the years we have created relationships and by working together we are going to get something that will make the area a lot safer – we are feeling very happy.”
Another area of concern for Ruahapia Rd and Otene residents was boy racers using those roads, doing drag races and burnouts, and there was also tagging and rubbish dumping occurring.
Residents sent a petition about the issues to Council and Mrs Hazlehurst said engineering solutions were being worked on in terms of the driving behaviour, and a number of options addressing the wider concerns would be taken back to the community.
The SH51/Waipatu Marae Safety Improvement project is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.