Community space with connections

Old and potentially hazardous phoenix palms will be replaced by kowhai trees in the new space.

A section of Warkworth river frontage will get a $300,000 facelift early next year, with a new community space between the library and Old Masonic Hall in Baxter Street.

Rodney Local Board signed off on the concept designs and funding for new seating, shade and terracing that will run from the street to the grass bank leading down to the river, at its meeting on April 18.

Although the bulk of the work will not take place until next February, Board chair Beth Houlbrooke specifically asked that two large phoenix palms next to the library be removed well ahead of that, as their spiky fronds were dangerous, could cause infection and had recently injured a young boy, who fell on a fallen frond.

Auckland Council property coordinator Sandra May told members she had already started the consenting process to have the trees removed as soon as possible, before the rest of the works went ahead.

She said the overall design was in response to community calls for better connections between the town and river, and attractive community spaces with more shade and seating.

It would also improve the library entrance and provide shelter for bus passengers.

She added that there was a great deal of support for the concept and location at a public open day in

December, apart from a few people who wanted more than the budget could provide at this stage.

However, Ms May said there was potential to add on to the design if further funding became available in future.

She added that, following input from mana whenua, Maori designs and wording would be stencilled into the concrete seating and terraced area, which will be known as Te Huihuinga Kowhai – or the kowhai gathering place.

Beth Houlbrooke said she was delighted to sign off on the concept designs and funding.

“This has been developed through nearly two years of community consultation and arose from the Warkworth Community Aspirations report published in December 2017,” she said.

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