Timely I guess to add my personal and up close perspective to the recent news that the Council is selling several properties. These include some former headquarters legacy of District Councils, including Franklin DC. It has been discussed and referred to for a while now, but with nothing formal.
Being only one of three elected representatives in Franklin (joined by Bill Cashmore and Murray Kay) to have been there since day one of Auckland Council I may have as good an understanding as anyone about the move from 82 Manukau Road. FDC had actually contemplated it earlier. The Local Board from the first term restarted the conversation when it became obvious that, with the change to Auckland Council, the old FDC building was probably not ideal as it was large and it leaked. I can show people a ruined artwork of mine I had hanging on the wall of my office, from a leak in the roof. Despite the best efforts it remains today along with a number of others. It also had a number of age related issues that required considerable investment to fix.
We also appreciated that with the planning at the time of the improvements to public transport and creation of the soon to be opened bus interchange and upgraded train facilities, having a council building in one of the most strategically important locations in the town did not make sense. As time and progress has marched on, we have seen those plans start to be delivered. With the electrification of rail due to be delivered within the draft transport budget for the next few years, the needs of the growing population reinforces the view I had then, that this site needs to be optimised and that any development plans there need to include capacity to provide more parking at the train station.
Our original vision was for the site to possibly be the home of a much needed education and training hub to address the migration of school leavers from the district for tertiary education and trade training. I personally still hold that as a preferred outcome but I am not the one who will be getting the cheque book (if anyone still has one) out. That is why the current Local Board felt it was important we made our views clear to the Governing Body committee when deciding if they should sell the property.
I got in a little bit of trouble for being “too passionate in my language” – oops – but made sure they knew we want to see the best possible outcome from the sale and that our community needs were considered as highly as council’s own internal needs.
Bill Cashmore, worked alongside us brilliantly and through that teamwork an extra part was added to the resolution so local boards will be involved when the time comes in a year or two, so our community sees better use of the property, less needless costs and better council facilities for staff and customers alike.