Focus is on resolving big issues, says Hamilton Mayor
By: Mayor Paula Southgate
Hello everyone and welcome to 2020! I hope you are enjoying summer, have had time with family and are taking advantage of the wonderful places and activities our city offers.
I’ve returned refreshed from a fabulous break and I’m enthusiastic and excited for the year ahead. I lead a passionate team of Councillors; all committed to building a better city. We will not always agree on everything, but we ALL agree that our focus must be on helping Hamilton – and Hamiltonians – achieve their full potential.
This year at Council we begin a review of the city’s 10-Year Plan – the document which sets budgets and priorities for the coming decade. This Plan is very important. It confirms the city’s direction and has impacts far beyond a 10-year horizon. We have to get it right.
In an exclusive to NewsViews, Hamilton Mayor, Paula Southgate expresses her commitment & that of her team of newly-elected Councillors, to resolve some big issues the city is facing. Through this column, Viewpoint, Mayor Southgate is expected to regularly keep the local community informed. So, stay tuned!
It is important to me that we involve Hamiltonians, very early on, in helping us set that direction. While elected Councillors make the final decisions, the best decision-making comes from being strongly connected to our community and to listening to different views.
Early in 2020 there will be some big issues I want us to get on and resolve.
We have a major decision to make about the future of Founders Theatre which was closed in early 2016 because of safety issues. Repairing and re-opening it as a performance venue is, in my view, unrealistic. I know that will disappoint some people because I know Founders is well-loved in our city.
The theatre sits in the West Town Belt; an area set aside for community, recreation or green space. Whatever we decide to do with Founders, we must ensure the community continues to benefit. I’m aware there have been many suggestions about what should be done and listening to people’s views will be an important part of moving forward.
Similarly, the future of the Municipal Pools at the south-end of Victoria St has yet to be determined. This facility was also much loved but is in disrepair. The location at the south end of the CBD, close to the Waikato River and Waikato Museum is a fantastic spot and we need to make sure that, whatever happens, we take maximum advantage of that space.
Whatever the outcome is on both these issue, some people will be pleased and others won’t. That is how a healthy, diverse community works. But before any final decisions are made, I look forward to hearing what the community has to say.
In the meantime, continuing to focus on building the vibrancy of the CBD, and particularly its connection to the River, will be a strong focus of my Mayoralty. I established a CBD/River Plan Working Group led by Deputy Mayor Geoff Taylor to focus on this issue.
Confidence in the CBD was boosted by confirmation late last year that the $73 million Waikato Regional Theatre has the green light following a substantial grant from central government. The regional theatre project will transform our inner city; by attracting more inner-city living, more accommodation options and more businesses to the CBD.
It’s an exciting time to lead Hamilton! So, as the year progresses, I look forward to keeping you informed via this forum and other mechanisms. Please join my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter and see me on Linked In. I want to be as accessible as possible and will continue to welcome any comments on how your Council is working for you.
Paula Southgate, Hamilton Mayor
Editor’s Note: The views expressed in this column, ViewPoint are the personal opinions of the writer, and do not reflect the views of NewsViews nor does it ascribe to these in any manner. NewsViews and/or persons associated with it also do not assume any responsibility or liability, if any, arising out of the views expressed here by the writer. ViewPoint is ‘by invitation’ only opinion column.