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Council dumps half million on comfort stop upgrades

Warkworth i-SITE manager Olivia Austin (left) and visitor consultant Daphne Schollum couldn’t be happier that the toilets will be refurbished.

Warkworth’s public toilets in the town centre and at Kowhai Park will be given a long overdue makeover soon.

There has been a constant stream of complaints over summer about the state of the loos, which have been described by i-SITE staff as “filthy” and “embarrassing”. Auckland Council will spend $275,000 on the i-SITE toilet block upgrade, with the work due to start next month. Manager Olivia Austin says it can’t happen soon enough. “We’re a bit fed up with the number of complaints we’ve received,” she says. “Warkworth facilities cater for the tour buses and we were concerned we might lose that trade if the toilets weren’t upgraded.” Council plans to replace all existing internal fittings and fixtures, and the interior will be re-clad and repainted. New drainage will be installed and a new coating applied to the floor. The finished block will consist of three female and two male toilets, two urinals and a unisex toilet with wheelchair access and a baby change table. The work will take about six weeks and the toilets will be closed for the duration. Portaloos will be provided in the interim. The work in Kowhai Park will start in April. Council will spend around $200,000 on a new prefabricated Exeloo toilet, which is being built off-site. It will be installed closer to the Matakana Road entrance, along with the relocated campervan dump station. The toilet facility will consist of three unisex pans in self-contained cubicles. Council community facilities general manager Rod Sheridan says the physical works have taken into account the possibility of any future widening of the Hill Street intersection, although there are no current designations on the reserve. “An advantage of the modular toilet facility is that it can be moved at a later stage in the unlikely event that this becomes necessary,” Mr Sheridan says. The existing toilet block will be demolished once the new toilet is installed. The work will also include new parking areas and the existing impervious car parking surfaces will be removed. Mr Sheridan says that while the car park area will be slightly smaller, it will still have marked places for 16 car parks, which is the same number as present. Also, like the current situation, the new car park will still provide overflow parking on grassed areas for special events such as the Kowhai Festival. “The car park will be set well back from SH1 so ‘for sale’ cars will no longer be able to park along the reserve’s highway frontage.” Footpaths will be upgraded, directing pedestrians to a safer crossing point on Matakana Road away from the main intersection. Landscaping and planting are included in the plan, as well as the construction of a stormwater treatment swale and ancillary works such as signage, lighting and park furniture. The tender for the construction of the car park is due to be released this month, with physical works set to start in early April. Council estimates it will take two months to complete the work and while the old toilet block will remain in operation until the new toilet is open, the car park will be closed during construction. The footbridge near the car park entrance will also be replaced. A condition report commissioned by Auckland Transport highlighted significant structural decay in the bridge’s steel beams, which will need replacing within 18 months. The old bridge will be replaced with a precast concrete structure on a slightly altered alignment. The water pipeline that hangs on the side of the existing footbridge will be transferred across to the new footbridge as part of these works. The Kowhai Park car park works will cost $350,000 , landscaping/planting $100,000, and bridge replacement $120,000.

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