Monday, November 13, 2006

Another look at Carlaw's "problems''...

Trevor Mallard, that lame duck from Wainui to whom expertise has always been a stranger, is now offering expert advice to Auckland architects and designers to whom expertise and local knowledge is considered fundamental to their work.

Never one to see ignorance as a barrier to pushing other people around, Trevor tells us we have two weeks to respond to his decree of last Friday, and tells Carlaw Park promoters to stop flogging a dead horse.

But the problem here is that the promoters of the Carlaw Park option, many of whom have joined together as the Domain Stadium Promotion Group, have both expertise and local knowledge, and unlike Mallard they see what a Carlaw Park option can do for the city and park surrounds and realise that it's good -- or can be good. The 'expert advice' of Mallard, ignorant of everything but the magnitude of his own ego, is as shallow as he himself.
The problems with Carlaw Park, he says, are:

  • a private developer already has a contract for the area;
  • three hectares of the domain would need to be used and several hundred trees felled;
  • roading runs too close to the proposed area for the park, leaving inadequate space for people filling a 60,000 seat stadium to spill out on to afterwards.

Let's deal with each in turn.

  • A private retirement-home development is a barrier for using Carlaw park, he says, but disprupting New Zealand's biggest port, a five-billion dollar a year operation, is (he maintains) no barrier to building a bedpan on the port. To state the point is to see its stupidity. It is not beyond the wit of man to either relocate or renogotiate the retirement-home scheme -- it will however be enormously difficult to either relocate or reconfigure new Zealand's export-import gateway. You would think even a braindead bureaucrat could see that -- a sharp enough negotiator could see it and solve it in an afternoon.
  • Yes, three hectares of a little-used and rather seedy domain edge will probably be used for a Carlaw Park stadium -- though careful design can certainly minimise this -- and done properly, it will regenerate this domain edge and its linkages to the city, Newmarket and Parnell. It can be transormed from backwater to a vital part of the inner city. Now, Mallard claims this to be a problem (a view not shared by nine out of
    the twenty Auckland councillors, including chairs of three key Auckland City Council committees – responsible for Environment, Urban Design, Transport and Recreation , all of whom might be expected to know the area a little better than either Mallard or his Wellington-based advisors), but even so it is hard to take as any kind of serious criticism when he apparently does not see any problem at all in inserting an enormous bedpan out at sea, right at the very centre of central Auckland's interface with its harbour.
  • The roading he talks about has an immediate link to a motorway system heading to almost every point of the compass, surely an asset rather than a problem. Furthermore, there is no problem whatsoever with 60,000 people spilling out of a Carlaw Park stadium onto this roadway since there is absolutely no need for them to do so. If egress is properly designed, perhaps along the lines I suggested the other day, then upper-level concourses to north, east and west can allow people to spill out in almost every direction, with links to the east to new rail stations and Parnell, to the north to a new Stanley Circus precinct, and to the westacross an over-road western concourse to Albert Park and (via travelator in existing tunnels) to the city beyond. Together this will easily absorb and painlessly disperse the spillover, without most not even touching the ground at Stanley Street level at all. However, how 60,000 people including vehicles will spill out easily from Mallard's bedpan onto Quay St is another story altogether, one which fine talk of a "boulevard" that can be "shut down" just doesn't even begin to solve ...

It seems to me that these 'problems' raised by the lame duck are neither problems nor thought through -- they are (as so much of Mallard's commentary frequently proves to be) convenient excuses by which to shut down debate. I would suggest either the Sports Minister or his advisers have another look at the Carlaw Park option so cursorily discarded and at the problems of the bedpan so easily overlooked. A good look.

RELATED: Stadiums, Politics-NZ, Sports, Auckland

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