Two busy and productive months so far! A busy year ahead!
It has certainly been a very busy two months since I was elected as Mayor but also a very productive time.
My first focus was on establishing a strong team to represent you. Working alongside my elected colleagues, I established five committees with Chairs and Deputy Chairs who are excited to get stuck into their work alongside you.
I am excited about what the 12 community leaders that you elected can achieve, and invite you to contact them with your ideas and issues. Most of them have facebook pages plus their contact details are on the HCC website.
There has been some good news from Government with announcements of $12m towards the Waikato Regional Theatre and potential new funding tools for infrastructure. This will take some burden of ratepayers as we grapple to meet the needs of a fast growing city, and in particular provide much-needed housing.
The Hamilton Gardens continued to develop with the opening of the wonderful Pituresque Garden. The Surrealist Garden which is also amazing opens in February 2020. There are plenty of plans ahead but we needed to pause and reflect on parking and informal lawn space, after the concerns raised by the community about the Rhododendron Lawn. I am confident a fresh look and listening to public concerns will lead to a much better understanding of the issues and to good outcomes.
I was also honoured to be part of the opening of our latest public art Ta tatou ki Kirikiriroa ( The Gateway to Kirikiriroa) in Victoria on the River (thanks to MESH). This wonderful public space is a really special window to the Waikato River and gives us a great sense of how Hamilton can be a great river city.
Sadly, due to lack of barge availability, the renewal of the city jetty (behind the Waikato Museum) has been a bit delayed. Thankfully a temporary pontoon keeps the Waikato River Explorer in action linking our CBD to the Hamilton Gardens. Just as well, since the fabulous Hamilton Garden Arts Festival kicks off February 19th. I can’t wait! Don’t forget to book your tickets early as many events sell out fast.
I have received many invitations and attended many events over the last few months. This has kept Deputy Mayor Geoff Taylor and I very busy…. but that is OK as we both love it!
But it hasn’t been all play and no work. We a have spent a lot of time reviewing Council business and, preparing for both the Annual Plan and Long Term (10-Year) Plan next year. This has involved understanding the Council’s vision, our budgets and our key strategies.
Conversation has been focused around growth, affordable homes, central city vibrancy and the River Plan, the natural environment and climate, and strong communities and community facilities (pools, playgrounds, cycleways etc). The Economic Development committee is also focused on smart ways of funding city growth and projects, growing tourism and making it easy to do business in the city.
Next year will be as busy as this one. Early on we will tackle the Annual Plan to ensure our yearly plan and budget is on track. But more importantly we will begin talking with you about the review of our Long-Term Plan. This is key to setting projects and priorities for the next three years.
As promised pre-election, your participation will be valued throughout the process. This will begin with a conversation about the four wellbeings (Social, Economic, Environmental and Cultural) and what this means for Council.
We live in a great city and I know that together we will build a bright future.
Whether, you are staying in town, heading to the bach, beach, lake or further afield, I wish you a safe and happy holiday season. Take care on the roads, take care in the water and take care of each other.
I’m taking a short break but will be back in the office, ready to go mid-January. My EA, Rochelle is available to make appointments, deal with any enquiries, and Deputy Geoff is an alternative contact point on the days I am away.
See you soon, Paula