Council’s recent name change to The Rotorua Lakes Council has recognised the Lakes as an integral part of the district for tourism and future growth. Council has also recognised the benefits to Okareka by giving us the opportunity to manage the Boyes Beach camping facility with all revenue to be used for community projects. Already some of this income has been used to upgrade the parking areas at the jetty boat launch area, the Boyes Beach parking area and in particular to extend and upgrade the parking at the Community Hall. We have arranged this work ourselves with great cooperation from Guy Gaddum Contracting.
This funding is in addition to the revenue we receive from DOC as a result of managing The DOC campground on Millar Road. This revenue is earmarked in the first instance to assist with funding the walking track from Boyes Beach to the DOC camp. It will also be available for other worthwhile environmental enhancement in the catchment.
Good progress is being made with the walking track between the two campgrounds and we are looking forward to its completion in the New Year. This is a major project for Landcare Okareka and LOCA partnership with costs of around $100,000 and many, many hours of volunteer labour.
The improvements to the Tarawera Transfer Station have been completed and is now the Tarawera Recycling Facility open 7 days a week for recycling suitable rubbish and disposing of Council Rubbish bags at no charge. It has been a joint project between Tarawera, Okareka and the Lakes Community Board with proactive support from both the District and Regional Councils. Removal of gorse in the area and landscaping are scheduled for the New Year.
Council now has money available for community projects through their Matching Fund. The community contribution can be in providing money, labour, timber, plants etc and Council will match it with money. Tarawera already have a community vegetable garden under this scheme and Landcare Okareka will be meeting with Council shortly to discuss our involvement.
The upgrade of the Lake Outlet through to Tarawera is now scheduled for February/March next year and hopefully will go some way to ensure the lake level is better controlled than it has been in the past.
The lack of Cell Phone coverage in the area continues to be a major and frustrating problem that should have been rectified by now. There is a suitable site at the top of Millar Road for a cell phone tower and the cost will be covered by Central Government under their high speed broadband roll-out scheme. We have lobbied every man and his dog and whilst we are assured it will be approved shortly, in the meantime there will of course be serious accidents on roads, walking tracks and lakes etc where a prompt phone call would possibly save lives. Enough said.
The holiday season will once again put pressure on Traffic Management at the Lakes and in particular at the Blue Lake so please drive carefully as many of the visitors and tourists will be here for the first time. You will note there is now a 50km speed limit from the DOC reserve on Tarawera Road to Loop Road at the Blue Lake.
Unfortunately Council continue to support events involving lake and road closures on Wellington and Auckland Anniversary weekends which will result in many visitors to Okareka. There will also be approximately 50 campervans leaving the area every morning at peak periods.
The International Ultra Marathon is scheduled for Waitangi weekend coming through Okareka the morning of 7 February and stopping at Boyes Beach for drinks/food. The organiser assures us it will be well managed and the supporters (1000 entries) will park at the Blue Lake and be bussed back and forth to Boyes Beach.
Included with this newsletter is the Okareka 2015 Phone Book which is going to all residents and ratepayers at no charge. Additional copies are available if required.
The Fire Force continues to be an important asset to Okareka and apart from the excellent training etc the volunteers receive, the recent sponsorship of the Guy Fawkes fireworks (many thanks Dennis) and the social for the locals were very much appreciated (thanks Phil and Blair).
Okareka is a special place to live and holiday and this is enhanced by all the volunteers who make contributions in so many ways either as individuals or team members or lobby on our behalf when required. They all know who they are and I would like to acknowledge their contributions. Thank you.
Take care and look after one another.