The rest of my report was included in the AGM presentation but for those people unable to attend the meeting it is a summary of 2012 and projects for 2013.
We have now signed a Contract with DOC to manage the Lake Okareka Camp Ground and day picnic area off Millar Road. The agreement is for 6 years (3+3), LOCA will receive 90% of the revenue from the campers and in return be responsible for the maintenance, cleaning and administration costs of the facility. It is important to understand that in the past all monies from DOC campgrounds has been remitted to Head Office in Wellington. This change of policy is to ensure that the bulk of the revenue from the Lake Okareka camp will be used for Lake Okareka conservation related projects and continuing the walking track around the lake is our first priority.
Revenue will to some extent be dependant on weather but the continuing popularity of campervans and camping should result in an annual surplus of $20/25,000. Where possible we will utilise Okareka contractors for maintenance etc and reimburse volunteers with fuel cards. Whilst this is a major commitment for LOCA we believe it is both an opportunity to work alongside DOC and protect and enhance the reputation of the area as an integral part of a “playground” for residents and visitors to Rotorua.
The volunteer camp supervisors over the very busy past month deserve a special mention and thank you. Mike & Sandra Goodwin, Chris & Helen Russell, Lyall & Judith Beuth, and Marcel & Corrie van Leeuwen, recently joined by Steve & Cheryl Lyons.
The other significant achievement during the year has been the success of the Lake Okareka Rural Fire Force in purchasing a new Fire Appliance when Council did not believe funding would be forthcoming for a new unit and were offering another unsuitable second hand engine. We all owe a big thank you to Phil Muldoon and his team who raised the full cost of $360,000 in a matter of months and we are looking forward to the party when the smart new engine arrives next month.
It is pleasing to note the major improvements to the Loop/Millar Road entrance to Okareka with the “Keep Rotorua Beautiful” organisation providing funding ($4,000) for the attractive mural on the Pump Station fence. The extensive plantings of shrubs and trees by Landcare Okareka and the recent formation of an off road walking track from the top of Summit Road to the school bus shelter next to the Pump Station all add to the much improved appearance of this area. A number of volunteers and organisations supplying materials and machinery have been involved with the track and special thanks to them all.
We have had some success recently in reducing signage at the boat launch area and now have our own Community Noticeboard in the form of a kiosk situated adjacent to the toilet block. Apart from local information we plan to feature history of the area, lake flora and fauna and coming events etc.
We are still planning to work with RDC to upgrade the picnic, swimming, small boat area adjacent to the jetty so it is similar to the Steep Street reserve. The weed cordoned area no longer has the weed growth. This has made it more popular for swimmers and kayakers and the fine weather has also resulted in many more boats and people using the area. There is now a need to review the control of the raupo as it spreads towards the jetty and raises safety issues with boats for swimmers and children jumping from the jetty and swimming out to the weed cordon.
Unfortunately hornwort has been found in Okareka in the past year and appears to have been well established before the installation of the weed cordon. The Regional Council will shortly be assessing the spread of hornwort and hopefully is able to control its impact on the lake.
The condition of the walking/cycling track along Acacia Road from the jetty to the walkway is causing concern and aggravated by the reduced mowing regime adopted by Council. This is on the agenda for the first LOCA meeting of the year.
You will be aware Council have removed the rumble strips at the entrances to the village as they appeared to make little difference to reduce speeds and were also noisy at night. However Exceeding the Speed Limit in the 50km area continues to be a concern so please slow down.
Our Website has been progressively upgraded in the past year and we welcome suggestions from residents for further improvements.
At last year’s AGM there was discussion of the unfair Property Rates currently being paid by rural residents to both the District and Regional Councils. Unfortunately they are likely to go higher again shortly as both Councils have now adopted capital value rating and RDC is committed to eliminating the 85% differential between urban and rural property rates. As a result of the recent amendment to The Local Government Act both RDC and BOPRC now have the incentive and opportunity to co-operate and rationalise the essential services provided to ratepayers and make it more affordable and therefore attractive to live in Rotorua. This amendment requires local government to “Provide good quality local infrastructure, public services and regulatory functions in a way that is most cost effective for households and businesses”. Initial reaction for change from our local politicians has not been encouraging and seems to be all about “patch protection”. However it is election year so we can but hope for change.