Where to for What if?

First of all I would like to thank every single person who has contributed to this blog/forum on the debate surrounding the development of a new multi-purpose stadium in our town. From those whose opinions I don’t agree with, I thank you for voicing your concerns. For those who have contributed actual expert knowledge, and those who just wanted to put their two cents worth in, again thank you very much, this is your forum. More latterly we must all thank the StS for imploding (several times) and allowing us to have Elizabeth Kerr on board as the resident dissenting voice. I think you will all agree that this site is much richer for the range of material now presented on the topic, and that is in no small part down to the hard work of Elizabeth.

When I first started this blog (and some with their heads up their neither regions won’t remember this), the original intention was to start a discussion around the design and function of the building. I was critical of the form (and thus function) of the thing, and while it is not our Sydney Opera House or even Water Cube, the subsequent refining of the concept has resulted in a much greater product (although still far from my wishes – but then I don’t have half a billion to give to the project). The site was exclusively about the design, I wanted to keep the politics out of it altogether, as I had seen the exceedingly unpleasant fights that take place on the NZ political blog scene. But this didn’t really interest anyone, or perhaps the debate wasn’t hot enough back then, and the site kept turning over with 5-20 interested souls a day visiting the site (bless them). However as soon as I took the bait from Peter Entwisle one day (thanks Peter) and the site took on a political feel, things went a little crazy. I remember looking at the stats one day, thinking 85 people looked at this today – madness. This may also surprise many, but it wasn’t until I was pigeon holed as ‘the pro-stadium guy’ that I actually took on the role, I was for the idea but still wasn’t convinced of the merits of it.

Well that is long in the past, and while the discussions have come and gone, there has been thrust and parry, jibes and compliments, on the whole this site has been one of the main stopping points for reasoned argument on the merits and concerns of the stadium development. Once public opinion really got heated up by the frenzied campaign of the StS, the stats went through the roof, and journalists, experts and politicians also referenced and visited this site, contributing from time to time (thanks Richard).

I guess what I have been most proud of, has been the fact that this site has become a forum for ideas, to be debated, applauded, shot down, chewed through, rejected, acclaimed, and it’s all been about Dunedin. I can’t remember another site like this, about Dunedin exclusively, and many of you may well know that there is another venture on the way. This has enabled Dunedin folk (or concerned and informed citizens of NZ) to contribute a voice, whether I like it or not. Unlike the StS site which has engaged in banning and censoring those whom it doesn’t agree with, this site, despite its obvious Pro Stadium stance, has been a place where free and frank discussions can take place, about the place we love to live in.

This isn’t the end of What if?. It is however me finally having the time to thank everyone for their contribution to this argument, whatever side of the fence you sit on. Below is a chart of the stats for this site. If you are involved in any of the big weblogs in NZ, these are laughable, but to me and for such a single issue site, I think this is pretty bloody impressive. I could hardly see Kiwiblog surviving for over 2 years and actually increasing the numbers on a SINGLE ISSUE only.

Thanks very much everyone, it’s been a blast, I hope you have all taken something from this site, be it that South Dunedin isn’t going to float away (I can honestly assure you all of that), through to the still tight economics of the development.

Site Stats

This graph shows the cumulative monthly ‘unique’ visitors to this site. Going from 155 average visitors in the very first month March 2007, through to an average of 6,500 April 2009. There have been 308 Posts, which were commented on 1,409 times over 21 Categories, using 1,006 Tags.

And what does this all show us, that you want to talk about the town you all live in, that is a great thing, cheers all.

Posted by Paul Le Comte


Filed under Architecture, Design, Economics, Hot air, Inspiration, Media, Other, Politics, Stadiums, STS, Town planning

5 responses to “Where to for What if?

  1. KLK

    And thanks, to all, for allowing a non-Dunedinite into the discussion :-)

  2. Richard

    You have probably said it all, Paul. I first alighted on this site “by accident” really and was encouraged that there was, at least, one place in Dunedin where I could drop by and gather some objective comment and opinion, for and against the (then) proposed stadium.

    “A blog” such as this, was essentially a new experience for me but – by and large – what I read was most useful and it quickly became am extension of the more traditional ‘bases’ one establishes as a councillor in tapping into what people are thinking etc.

    As the debate wound along, Council was criticised for many things. The differing roles of the Carisbrook Stadium Trust, acting as an agent for council, and that of the council itself were often mixed.

    Although some elements of such an arrangement had surfaced in the Chinese Garden project, the stadium was something quite different. The idea of setting up the Carisbrook Stadium Trust had, after all, come on the initiative of Council after the impasse in 2004 over what to do about the existing Carisbrook Ground. The Chinese Garden Trust, on the other hand, had complete ‘ownership’ of the Chinese Garden project until after its completion and gifting to the city.

    After the initial decision in June 2007 to further investigate the Awatea Street option, it took some time to establish how the relationship between the CST and Council would work. It was not without difficulty either. Despite the best of intentions, misunderstandings over such things as unrealistic deadlines certainly did not prove helpful.

    Sometimes those deadlines were just too simplistic. No-one, for example, foresaw the huge task of trying to untangle property ownership on the selected site. I suspect if the difficulty of untangling the myriad of land and building ownership, leases and cross-leases of varying kinds etc ,had been known at the outset, the project would never have got into first gear!

    There are obviously things that would be done differently if we had to repeat such an arrangement!

    It also has to be said that the entrenched positions that some people took made this debate a very difficult one at public level. Full advantage was taken by opponents of the project of the ‘confusion’ or gaps in the roles of the CST and the DCC!

    Whatever, the decision has been made. It is time to move on.

    Dunedin faces some vital planning challenges. For a whole number of reasons, we need to look now at the next 50 years and what sort of city we would like Dunedin to be in 2060 and beyond

    One of the most vital – AND IMMEDIATE – the redevelopment of “The Flat”, more particularly South Dunedin including the part originally known as Caversham, now generally referred to as Hillside.

    Right in the midst, CARISBROOK!

    In terms of the agreement made with the ORFU, ownership of The ‘Brook will shortly pass to Council. It will, of course, continue as our major rugby sporting ground until the new stadium is completed.

    What then?

    Well known Dunedin planner, Don Anderson, believes Carisbrook should retain its sports focus and that some of the activity presently on Bathgate Park should move to it.

    That in turn opens up the possibility of better utilising the vast open space of Bathgate Park for several purposes.

    As Don points out, having a bit of space to work with, gives great flexibility. You have the space to “move things around”.

    What Don is pointing up, of course, is that the crucial key to the imaginative redevelopment of South Dunedin lies in what happens with Carisbrook.

    Others are picking up on this. The students at the University’s Department of Geography have presented some ideas. All included residential development either on part of the existing ground or in the other adjacent properties owned by the ORFU and ownership of which will pass to Council along with the ground itself.

    The challenge is there.

    So, what better place to accept it than on a successor site to this?

    Thanks again Paul and (more latterly) Elizabeth for stirring things along.

    I have to confess though, I wonder what all the rugby news, match reports etc that have latterly been posted were intended for. After all, they are on most –IF NOT ALL – of the new sites one can access!


  3. Richard

    I do not think anyone on council is advocating – or has advocated – using the quarry as a landfill when it is no longer operational. If my memory serves me right, the owners of the Dunedin quarry are involved in such an operation up north.

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