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Beach Hop classic cars to visit Thames and other highlights from Thames Community Board’s first meeting of 2021

19 February 2021

The Repco Beach Hop will be making a stop in Thames at its 2021 event, thanks to $5000 from the Thames Community Board discretionary grant to assist with traffic management costs.

(Click the embedded video above to view the recorded Thames Community Board meeting of 17 February)

The Repco Beach Hop will be making a stop in Thames at its 2021 event, thanks to $5000 from the Thames Community Board discretionary grant to assist with traffic management costs.

The Board approved to use the remaining $2,554 in its Discretionary Fund and $2446 from its Community Grants fund (leaving $1336 in that fund) to assist Thames Business Association in meeting the approximately $8,000 cost of closing part of Pollen St for several hours on Thursday 25 March. Traffic management is not a Council-imposed cost but a legislative requirement. 

See the funding request report here

The Beach Hop cruise has visited Whitianga for the past three years, bringing up to 1,000 classic cars in the parade and attracting about 8,000 people to the town centre for the day.

“Having the Beach Hop cars in Thames opens this event to a whole new audience in Paeroa, Ngatea, Hamilton and even Auckland, and COVID permitting, will bring thousands of people to town for the day, looking at the vehicles, browsing the shops and eating at our cafes,” says Thames Community Board Chair Strat Peters.

Below is a summary of the rest of the meeting and you can listen to the unedited video recording of the meeting on our website at tcdc.govt.nz/meetings, or view the full agenda here.

In the public forum:

John Isdale, outgoing Property Lead for Thames School of Mines, told the Board he was stepping down from the role after 20 years involvement with the NZ Heritage Property and that his replacement, Scott Ellissewas well experienced. He also spoke of car parking in Thames.

Carolyn McKenzie, Chairperson of Thames Museum told the Board the museum was considering a business case for employing a staff member to carry out work currently done by volunteers. Visitor numbers are steadily increasing and the museum has many items to catalogue and store. The volunteers are overstretched. Work and storage spaces are constrained and the museum would like to improve and expand the facility.

Geoff Furkett of the Sir Keith Park Memorial Airfield Trust airfield users’ group questioned the need for a tender process for aircraft hangar leases at Thames airfield. See Item 3.2 for more information on this issue and our website tcdc.govt.nz/thamesairfieldhangars for more information on the availability of hangar leases.

Greg Hampton, Chairperson of the Thames Heritage Trust, which operates the Treasury archive, introduced their new curator, Danielle Campbell, who has been engaged on a nine-month contract. The new curator intends to increase the Treasury’s open hours, recruit more volunteers, promote the area’s māori history and collaborate with other heritage facilities and schools.

Two Thames business operators spoke of their opposition to the temporary closure of Mary St west of Pollen St as far as the service lanes in order to create a trial public space there. See more about this project below and at www.tcdc.govt.nz/createthevibethames.

In the meeting:

Thames Airfield Development banner

2.1 Application for Community Grant Funds - Steampunk the Thames Inc

The Board approved allocating $1,050 from its Community Grant fund to Steampunk the Thames to cover the cost of hiring Thames War Memorial Civic Centre for Steampunk Festival events from 22-24 April.

3.1 Renewal of Licence to Occupy - Waikawau Boat Ramp Society Incorporated

The Board recommended to Council that the Waikawau Boat Ramp Society’s licence to occupy its boat ramp site on the Thames Coast be approved. 

3.2 Thames Airfield - Hangar Site Tenders

The Board approved the tender process for leasing space to build hangars at Sir Keith Park Memorial Thames Airfield, and recommended to Council that tenders be invited under the Public Bodies Leases Act. Inviting tenders is the commercially proven best option and allows the market to determine the value. Market signals from other provincial airfields in the upper North Island is that demand for hangars is strong.

Council will consider this recommendation at its 23 March meeting and if approved, tenders can be formally invited. 

See more about development plans for Sir Keith Park Memorial Thames Airfield on our website at tcdc.govt.nz/thamesairfieldhangars

4.1 Parking Control Bylaw Schedule A Amendments

The Board recommended to Council that the Parking Control Bylaw Schedule A be amended to convert three car parks on Baillie Street in Thames, next to St Francis Church, to two mobility car parks, as there are none in the area and there is a need in the church community for them.

4.2 Thames Community Board Work Programme 2020/21

The Board was updated on progress on projects in Thames Ward. Here are some of the highlights:

Tenders for the upgrade of the intersection of Ngati Maru Highway (SH25) and Totara Valley Rd are being evaluated.

A section of the Coastal Pathway in Thames by the Croquet Club in Victoria Park is to be renewed.

Construction of the replacement toilet at Brown St in Thames was delayed by COVID-19 last year but has been rescheduled to start in late February. This project is thanks to one of our successful applications to the government's Tourism Infrastructure Fund. tcdc.govt.nz/tif

5.1 Members’ Reports

The following Thames Community Board Members and Councillors reported:

Strat Peters (Board Chairperson) has been encouraging community involvement in the upcoming Long Term Plan (LTP) consultation, beginning 5 March (see tcdc.govt.nz/longtermplan2021). He met with the Thames Public Art Trust to discuss locations for more sculptures the Trust is working on; and he’s been attending meetings for the Thames and Surrounds Spatial Plan (see tcdc.govt.nz/thamesspatialplan for more information on this investigation into long-term land use planning in the Thames area).

Cherie Staples (Deputy Chair) attended the Thames Rugby Club AGM and encouraged participation in the LTP consultation. She made a site visit to Te Puru to meet residents and Council Parks and Reserves staff to come up with a solution to access to a beach front area that has experienced anti-social behaviour. 

Sheryll Fitzpatrick met with the Thames Museum committee to discuss fundraising for their plans to improve their museum space and hire a paid staff member to help with cataloguing and administration tasks. Sheryll has been working with our Mayor Sandra Goudie to lobby Waka Kotahi (NZTA) to shorten the current long wait times to sit drivers licence exams. She attended a forum on social isolation and is working towards holding a forum on helping people with physical disabilities.

Peter Revell has been working with airfield users on the hangar lease plans. He met with the Thames Business Association (TBA) Chief Executive and Board Chairperson and noted the significant progress Council and the TBA have made in developing their relations. 

Councillor Sally Christie noted the District had not had to go to the highest level of water conservation measures – a Total Watering Ban – over peak summer, despite the dry conditions, thanks to the efforts of residents and visitors. She has also been encouraging other community members to be involved in the LTP consultation. She noted that wild fire is still a concern, despite the bit of recent rainfall.

Councillor Martin Rodley visited Watson Engineering in Thames to view the concrete planters being painted for the Mary St public space (see update on this project below). He said the local artists displaying their work on these planters were very talented and encouraged people to see their art work once the planters were on site on Mary St from next week. Martin has been speaking to Thames residents curious about the Mary St public space. He’s been attending meetings of the Thames Heritage Network and noted they are working on more collaboration with other heritage groups in Thames; and he’s been having preliminary talks with social agencies about street people in Thames.

Councillor Robyn Sinclair has been encouraging participation in the upcoming LTP consultation.

Thames Community Board members

Thames Ward Councillors

Thames civic heart public space to open next week

Alternative Route Poster

A close up look at the new trial layout:

(Map showing trial Mary St closure and alternate routes (above) and artist's impression of the civic hub public space)

Our new civic space in the heart of Thames will be in place on Mary Street from 7pm Monday 22 February. 

Creating this people-friendly place will involve the temporary closure of Mary St at the intersection with Pollen Street for the half block running west to the service lanes towards Queen St. Access to the ANZ car park will be maintained from Mary St.

Improved road marking and signage at the Pollen and Queen St intersections will improve everyone’s safety around the new layout.

The length of the trial public space and the Mary St closure will depend on how the space is used, its effects on traffic flow and the feedback we receive on it. It is a pilot and we’ll be monitoring use of the space and how the street closure affects vehicle traffic. 

We’re planning to leave it in place for two months and then will review how it’s working and make any changes in layout based on the review and the feedback. 

The materials being used for the public space are temporary and can be easily removed.

The new space will incorporate seating and tables, shade, greenery, lighting, bike racks, road art and designs from Thames artists on concrete planters. It will be ready in time to host the Thames Food and Buskers Festival on 5-6 March. See the artist’s impression above.

Other events coming up are the Beach Hop cruise to Thames on 25 March, the Steampunk Festival from 22-24 April, and the Solarpunk Aotearoa festival on 8-9 May.

The new public space, which is part of our range of Create the Vibe Thames activities to add vibrancy to the town centre, is 90 per cent funded ($320,125.50) by Waka Kotahi/NZ Transport Agency as part of its Innovating Streets pilot programme, with the remaining 10 per cent ($35,569.50) from Thames Community Board.

More information on this project: tcdc.govt.nz/createthevibethames

Below are pictures of concrete planters that Thames artists are putting their own designs on. These will be used in the Mary St civic hub public space.

Thames civic hub planter fish

Thames civic hub planter tui

Thames civic hub planters