Most Ōtaki residents look forward to the time when traffic stops clogging our main north/south road and passes by on the completed PP2Ō expressway.
Fridays, holidays and weekends with traffic at a standstill for kilometres in either direction should be a thing of the past.
Our shopkeepers, business owners and operators aren’t so sure. There are doomsayers who believe that the business and commercial areas of Ōtaki will die.
There are two reasons I believe this won’t happen. Sure, we will have less traffic, but it’s the aim of two groups to attract attention to our township and to encourage visitors to get off the expressway to patronise our businesses and use our facilities.
On the front page of this issue are details about the Gateway sculptures. These will be at the north and south expressway exits/entrances to Ōtaki and will be visible from some distance.
They are the result of considerable discussion and development by the Gateway
Steering Group, including representatives of Ngā Hapū o Ōtaki, NZTA, Ōtaki Community Board, KCDC, Fletchers, designers and others.
They are an important part of what Ōtaki Ward Councillor James Cootes argued for with the Board of Enquiry which set down the consents and design requirements for the whole PP2Ō. They aren’t just signs but a statement that captures the history of Ōtaki and all early residents – Māori, whalers, Chinese and Europeans.
The sculptures say “who we are and where we come from”. And, I believe, they are something of which the whole community can be proud. Their aim is to get people to slow down, visit the town, use our amenities and support our economy and local jobs.
The other group with the same objective is Elevate Ōtaki. Once again this was a brainchild of James Cootes and it’s currently working on a programme to promote and develop Ōtaki as a destination, not just a place you bypass. There will be a lot more to say about the work of Elevate Ōtaki in the future.
I’m privileged to be involved in the work of both these groups.