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Flyovers and the Wellywood sign

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One word was missing from the Transport Agency’s announcement that next month it will finally tell the public about its plans for changing State Highway One around the Basin Reserve. The word which the Agency chose not to use: flyover.

In spite of widely-discussed reports that the only options will be two versions of a flyover, the Agency still can’t bring itself to use the word. It’s been in unconvincing denial throughout the planning process. In 2009 everyone knew what it was planning (Mayor Prendergast had let the flyover cat out of the bag a year earlier) but its regional director pretended that flyover plans didn’t exist.

Which is a situation which can’t last beyond July 2, when the secrecy will end and locals will be given eight weeks to say what they think about having a flyover built across the southern end of Kent and Cambridge Terraces.

Not that their opinions will necessarily count for much, to go by the experience of Kapiti and Horokiwi. The best the Agency is offering Wellington is that “public feedback will help guide it” in making final decisions. Public feedback is of course strongly opposed to a flyover at the Basin Reserve, which is no doubt the reason why the Agency’s statements have been so consistent in avoiding the subject.

Public opinion has been similarly strong in opposing the Wellywood sign, yet communications from Wellington Airport Limited have been embarrassingly inconsistent in failing to recognise what’s been obvious to everyone else for more than a year.

Consider the airport’s smug and bombastic statement on May 21:
The sign chosen to celebrate and promote Wellington’s iconic film industry is Wellywood. The 8m by 30m edifice will be the city’s newest photo opportunity … Initiatives which will help our tourism industry stand out on the global stage have never been so important, and at Wellington Airport we are proud to do this through celebrating Wellington’s talent and success … The airport has received thousands of suggestions and ideas for a sign … Wellywood proved to be the best fit with the criteria and will be the new look sported by the hillside. Steve Fitzgerald commented, “I expect widespread support for the intent of the sign, even if a Wellywood sign isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.”

Then ten days later, a confused and contradictory message after widespread support had failed to eventuate:
…Wellington Airport is responding to the feedback it has received from the Wellington community on the proposed Wellywood sign. We have listened to community views. We are inextricably linked to the Wellington economy and community, and we always strive to act in the best interests of Wellington. The sign has always been about putting Wellington firmly on the map as a film tourism destination and the process to date has exceeded our expectations of international media coverage. The name Wellywood … clearly has opposition. For this reason, we have decided to put options through a community selection process…We will publish the names of the panel members, and the draft terms of reference, shortly. It is our intention to allow Wellingtonians to express their views in a way that counts.

But there’s no indication that public opinion will really count – because the airport isn’t giving up.

Contracted preparatory work for a sign will continue in anticipation of a sign of some description being decided. [But] work has been halted on creating the Wellywood letters.

The airport is as obsessed with its unpopular Wellington sign as the Transport Agency is obsessed with building an unwanted and unnecessary flyover near the Basin Reserve.

5 comments:

  1. Mr W. E. Wood, 14. June 2011, 7:15

    Well we’ll need to improve the roading out to the eastern suburbs so that everyone can go and see the wellywood sign won’t we. Either that or the mass exodus trying to flee it will need a viable escape route.

     
  2. K, 14. June 2011, 10:42

    Why are you attacking Wellington initiatives that are moving Wellington forward.. if developments such as the road were not arranged Wellington would not be what it is today

     
  3. Geoff, 15. June 2011, 21:22

    “Public opinion has been similarly strong in opposing the Wellywood sign”

    Maybe it’s me but I don’t see a facebook page with 25,000 people opposing a flyover.

     
  4. Jamie, 16. June 2011, 19:02

    To ‘K’. What are you talking about? Before we, your readers, can make any informed comment, you will have to do much better than this. Vague, obscure claims or references won’t ‘cut it’. You will need to be much more specific and provide details about exactly what it is to which you are referring. What initiatives? What road developments? Unless you tell us what you mean we won’t be able to conclude whether you’re talking nonsense or not.

     
  5. Kent Duston, 21. June 2011, 21:42

    Geoff – You’re clearly not looking hard enough. The Save The Basin Reserve campaign has more than 2,500 supporters on Facebook and 800+ people from around the world on its email lists, before the designs for the flyover have even been released by the NZ Transport Agency. Opposition to this ill-considered project is likely to grow substantially when Wellingtonians see how bad it’s going to be – which is presumably why the Transport Agency has been so reticent about sharing the designs.

    K – I know some people think that building roads is “progress” in that archaic 1960s way, but why are you so keen on supporting projects that will lose taxpayers at least $215 million on a state highway network that had a 2% decrease in traffic volumes last year? How is losing money on roads we don’t need “moving Wellington forward”?