Imagine a transport hub, information centre and accommodation provider all in one location in downtown Mount Maunganui.
That’s the vision local architect Mark Wassung has for Salisbury Avenue along the edge of Coronation Park.
He’s seen the ‘chaos’ of bewildered cruise ship passengers getting off at Salisbury Wharf, where taxis and buses jostle for space, and thinks the best solution is to combine tourist facilities with accommodation and a transport centre, to bring people in and out of the Mount with ease.
“I’ve recently been to Port Canaveral [in the USA] and they have elevated walkways there that move on wheels and can be adjusted to whatever ship comes in,” he says.
“The passengers walk at a higher level, separate from the other port activities. Here, passengers could walk along a similar walkway to an information centre and food court, which would be above the bus and train station.”
The transport hub would have options for buses, taxis, and bicycles, as well as trains if the railway line is extended into Coronation Park.
Mark says the idea is all about generating conversations and shifting thinking, particularly with the Port of Tauranga, which would have to come on board for the project to be viable.
A hotel as part of the complex could also be used as a way to attract a private investor.
“It could be a public-private partnership. An international hotel chain may be interested, and I know the city needs one. I wouldn’t expect the council to pay for it – I’m very against councils paying for buildings, they shouldn’t be in that business.”
Cycle advocate Heidi Hughes from Bike Mount has seen the drawings and thinks the concept would be a great way to tie together different projects.
“It looks at the future of transport and parking in the area, as well providing the opportunity for more accommodation and tying in the information centre, which at the moment is going to be a single-use building.”
She says the transport hub in particular fits with her group’s aim of freeing up road space for all users.
“This idea would encourage people to come to the Mount in transport other than cars, such as buses or trains, and reduce congestion here.”
As Mark is a candidate in the upcoming Tauranga City Council by-election, the council would not comment on the designs. The current management plan for Coronation Park emphasises developing the area for recreational use and potentially installing artwork.