When the news was published that Hamilton City Council did not want to fund an entertainment programme at Hamilton’s newest CBD park, Victoria on the River (VOTR), local businesses have rallied together to raise the funds. To date nearly $20,000 has been raised in less than a week.
Agenda Waikato’s chairman, Graham Dwyer, along with supporter and well-known developer Matt Stark kick-started the initiative. “We don’t want to see a place we are currently proud of fall by the wayside. By not having a co-ordinated entertainment programme for that new space, we are taking on the ‘if you build it they will come’ mentality, which just isn’t good enough. It is also likened to having guests turn up to your new house but not having any music, conversation or refreshments to serve!” said Mr Dwyer. Mr Stark will drive the programme in collaboration with other key stakeholders.
Mr Stark, whom developed the building adjacent to VOTR, agrees that it’s all about offering incentives to the public to visit the park and complementing that vibrancy.
The park opened in January this year and Mr Stark believes that there is potential to maintain a steady stream of visitors to the CBD with exciting entertainment, “The park is located near Garden Place that could easily reap the benefits with a co-ordinated programme. The opportunity is right there. Why would we want to sit back, plan and wait until next year, when we could try something now.”
Agenda Waikato has been in contact with the Waikato Chamber of Commerce and Hamilton Central Business Association who agree there is a need to help keep the new space activated.
Mr Dwyer stated that he wasn’t happy seeing another story about an opportunity lost, “We can’t just sit back and let something take care of itself. It’s about thinking with aspiration. It’s about wanting the best place to live, work and play. It’s about giving it a go and driving an initiative forward. This is just one example for the region. We have passion – let’s harness that passion and make it happen.”
With support coming in quickly from a range of businesses, it is easy to see this initiative is business-driven without the help or enablement from council. While one of the councillors recognised that the council’s role was to enable such a programme, that’s as far as it went.
Councillors voted 8-4 against spending $19,200 to activate the park.
Image courtesy of Ninmo productions.
(Hamilton City Council, 2018)
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