A long-forgotten plan was dusted off and put back into the city council’s annual plan last week – it’s a plan to plant trees in Taranaki Street, to make it part of a new “processional route.”
Taranaki Street was chosen for this honour in 2009 as part of a “capital city initiative” announced by the Prime Minister and then Mayor Kerry Prendergast.
In that year, the council earmarked $3.5m for the tree-planting in Taranaki Street. But the money was never spent. If trees had been planted in 2009, they’d have had time to acquire the maturity that might be expected for whatever processions are being planned for the new processional route. But the failure to plant them has meant that trucks carrying used cars have had four more years to park in the middle of the street while they make their deliveries.
The council’s spending plans for the processional route shrank last week to become much more modest than four years ago: only $150,000 was allocated, “to redesign the street including tree planting and other design and development measures.” Which doesn’t really make it clear whether trees are to planted at last, or whether it’s to be a year of only making plans.
The same amount is being spent to investigate ideas to revitalise Civic Square. That’s a project that’s really needed and which has much more potential. But it’s not likely to show any results till strengthening of the town hall is completed. And that’s at least four years away.
The capital city initiative in 2009 was described as aiming to “elevate the status” of Wellington in time for the city’s 150th anniversary as the capital city in 2015.
Taranaki Street was to become part of “a recognized processional route” to the National War Memorial. The processions were to start from Parliament, heading down Whitmore Street to the Quays, and thence to the bottom of Taranaki Street, with new pohutukawa trees in the middle of the road as a distraction from the used-car yards.
When the route was first announced, the War Memorial Park was still to be bisected by State Highway 1, and parades would have had to navigate the traffic lights at Taranaki Street. Now that the road is going underground, processions will no doubt access the park at its northern corner, without having to cross State Highway 1. Let’s hope that they don’t have to wait too long at the other traffic lights.
But what are the processions that need a processional route? Somewhere in one of the bureaucracies, is there a list of processions waiting to be organised once the trees have been planted on the new processional route?
And what’s going to happen to the trucks wanting to unload more cars?