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An artist’s impression of the approved layout for the new destination playground at Thames’ Porritt Park. Image: SUPPLIED/TCDC

Thames’ Porritt Park destination playground design approved, ongoing costs unknown

Landscape design plans have been approved for Porritt Park’s new destination playground, but the Thames Community Board has yet to decide how much ratepayers will fork out in depreciation costs.
Ongoing operational and maintenance costs of approximately $6.45 a year per ratepayer are already expected to be included in the district’s rates, according to a report updating the board on the project’s progress.
However, the cost of depreciation is still up in the air, depending on whether the board opts to fully or partially fund depreciation, or not account for depreciation at all.

If the depreciation is fully funded by ratepayers, all playground equipment will be able to be replaced at the end of its lifespan. Partial funding means the council will have to make decisions about which pieces of equipment to remove at the end of its life and which to replace, potentially reducing the appeal of the space as a ‘destination playground’. Without depreciation funding, expired pieces of equipment will simply be removed with nothing replacing them.
According to the report presented at the board’s June 21 meeting, if the board opts to fund depreciation for the playground in full, it could cost an estimated $13.83 per annum per ratepayer. The total cost per ratepayer could be around $20.28 per annum, including operational costs.
This is an increase from previous cost increase estimates by the Thames Coromandel District Council. In a September 2022 meeting, the board received a report estimating the operational costs to be $4.50 per annum, with potential depreciation costs of $12.80 a year.
Thames councillor Robyn Sinclair said at the latest meeting that depreciation costs for the playground would not be a completely new charge for ratepayers, as the existing playground also required maintenance and depreciation payments.
“We have already been paying depreciation, we have already been paying [operational costs], so yes this is a charge, but it is not a brand new $20.28 charge,” she said.
The board opted to defer its decision on depreciation costs, recommending instead that the costs be decided in the next long-term plan cycle for the district.

The playground landscape plan, meanwhile, was approved by the board. It includes a bespoke boat and lighthouse play feature inspired by the replica Wakatere Paddle Steamer, which stood on the site between 1969 and 2017. It also features an accessible seesaw and carousel, a nature play area, scooter track, basketball court, barbecue facility and an accessible ‘Changing Places’ toilet facility. Some existing features, such as the swings and skate park, will remain.
Council parks and open spaces manager Derek Thompson told board members the new playground would ideally be suitable for play by Christmas, with landscape planting to be completed next winter.
The playground project has a budget of $2 million. An initial $1.5 million was donated to the council in 2022 by an anonymous donor, and an additional $500,000 was approved by the council to cover potential cost increases.
The Thames Business Association has been charged with raising the additional funds.