When I read Merepeka Raukawa Tait’s column titled – All cities need big dreamers, I actually thought no, rather Rotorua needs visionaries with business acumen, as more often that not, big dreamers become unstuck financially.
The attempt to use the success of Eat Street as justification to encourage us to support the Rotorua Lakefront rejuvenation, was either naive or manipulative.
Eat Street only cost $5 million and it housed businesses that all made a financial contribution of at least $20,000 each towards the retractable roof over the outdoor seating area in front of their businesses.
It was private enterprise that made the contribution and also had the benefit of the remodeling with increased profits.
If we used that same business model for the lakefront, then the tourist operators receiving a new building to operate out of, and the spa resort being built by Pukeroa Oruawhata Trust, who will gain lake sight lines and privacy with the demolition of the Scout hall, clearance of trees and closure of the road from the lakefront to the museum, should be contributing the $20 million towards the rejuvenation of the lakefront, not the ratepayers. After all, it is these private enterprises that will be receiving the financial benefit, as the lakefront carparks and public access will be taken away from the community.
While the Council pursues its pie in the sky dreams and schemes, with the $40 million lakefront expenditure, including the $1 million playground, ratepayers will be left wondering if they will ever wake from the nightmare of the mountains of debt and increased interest costs, the Council is steamrolling them into.
More likely ratepayers will be left steaming at Council’s dreaming.