“Shared” resource use for “public” goods – the concept is almost sacred. All for one and one for all …..community values…the public interest. The lion and the lamb co-existing peacefully in a mythical garden of plenty.
Reality is never so tidy – indeed self interested opportunistic behaviour by a powerful few usually rules the roost – unless some form of enforced regulation protects the interests of the “public”. Unfortunately the crowding out of truly public interests by trailerable powerboat owners at Grossi Park is a classic case in point of this truism of political economy. . The issue is not the activity of power trailer boat launching itself – but the sheer scale of the activity during a lengthy peak summer holiday season and/or basically whenever “the snapper are running” off Rabbit Island. 40 or so trailer boat owners/users crowd out the rest of us for 2-3 hours on either side of high tide.
The defining characteristic of a public good resource is that up to a point any one person’s use does not interfere with the enjoyment of any other person’s use. And so it is with an uncrowded park, an uncrowded road, an uncrowded open air concert, an unobstructed view of the mountains or sea, a lighthouse in an uncrowded harbour .
But when congestion or crowding does set in , the personal enjoyment value for the individuals using the public good is reduced, and often destroyed, individually and in aggregate. Not only from trying to use the resource yourself in an over crowded road, park, concert, etc but from opportunities lost as one changes activities, or lifestyles – avoiding drunken louts at a crowded concert, delaying driving home because of rush hour road congestion, moving up a couple of floors in a high rise to try to recapture a view erased by a new adjacent high rise, moving out of congested and sometimes ugly urban centres in the process known as urban sprawl.
The clip above illustrates both situations at Grossi Point , a small but beautiful foreshore park/reserve in the village of Mapua. For a couple of hours on either side of high tide during summer months and on many weekends, and “when the snapper are running”, chaos reigns in this little park . Too many powerboat owners use one small narrow rustic landing ramp and occupy almost the entire greenspace in the park with big cars and big boat trailers . There is no safe tranquil space for picnickers, walkers, swimmers, paddle boarders, kayakers, or simply sitting quiet on the foreshore celebrating the tranquility, and the life, of one of the world’s treasured estuaries.
Sadly, there is no “regulation” or enforceable coordination of use at Grossi Point reserve – it is a free for all with the big motorised boat users simply muscling in on top of any and every other use and user. While other nearby (15 min drive) and high quality launching facilties are there for the taking, the motorized mighty prefer immediate access to the latte’s and wine bars of the Mapua Wharf after a tough day on the water . Besides, what’s to stop them? The other non-motorised users usually just leave at crowded times . Muscled out.
To me that’s not good enough when ” the others ” are young children, moms and dads, grannies and grandpas, seniors and 30-somehtings, those elderly or young vulnerable in their mobility and agility, and of course the many physically disabled of all ages, wanting a picnic, a swim , a quiet float on a kayak or paddle board, a junior sailing …a tranquil afternoon or evening down by a magical lagoon. Thousands of residents, thousands of visitors experiences ruined or ruled out at many times, by 50 powerboat owners appropriating public reserve spaces . It’s time for the “activity zone” philosophy of reserve management that applies to Rabbit Island to be extended to Grossi point.
One final point. There is a proposal to create a concrete powerboat launch ramp on the Waterfront Park foreshore. In spite of TDC formal resolution to the contrary some trailered powerboat advocates in the Mapua Boat Club continue to argue that is needed to “solve” the problems at Grossi point. The evidence from this clip is that high tide , peak period , powerboat ramp use would add significantly more unsightly congestion of motorised vehicles (boats, cars and trailers) in what is and would otherwise be one of the most beautiful foreshore parks in New Zealand , alongside the best, small scale seaside village restaurant/cafe complex anywhere in the South Island, in one of the friendliest , small, residential seaside villages in the world.
That’s the downside of current intense mixed uses. Can there be an upside? Yes – see draft image below and upcoming post.