I've taken a while to respond to John Macalister's letter to the Capital Times, but I hope I was in time to make this week's edition (update: yes, it was in time, as it was published in the November 16th edition). Dr Macalister seemed to have been late with his letter, as he looks to be referring to a letter of mine from some weeks back, rather than the more recent one that deals with the full text of Jack Ruben's letter. Anyway, here's my letter:
John Macalister accuses me of twisting Waterfront Watch's views, but I don't need to: they're twisted enough already. Most people who know and enjoy cities realise that they are best when a range of uses (including residential, commercial, entertainment and recreation) is mixed throughout the city at a fine scale; yet Waterfront Watch seem to want to go back to the Modernist doctrine of segregating uses.I hope I'm not being too broad when I claim that no-one I know wants nothing but park at Waitangi, but that's definitely the consensus among my friends, and though the comments on my last Waitangi Park post covered a range of opinions, I think it's fair to say that none of you wanted a complete absence of new buildings in the Waitangi precinct. I'm not quite as adamant about the Hilton project (I support it, but with reservations, and I've proposed what I hope is a constructive solution to meet the most serious objections), but even on that most people I know are more in favour of it than against it.
It's ironic for Dr Macalister to accuse others of 'smug, "we-know-best" attitudes', when Waterfront Watch is always claiming to speak for all of Wellington. "We Wellingtonians know what we want," he says. Well, I'm a Wellingtonian too, and I know that I don't want Waterfront Watch's big, dull, empty spaces.
Waterfront Watch want nothing but park between Te Papa and Oriental Parade, but I don't know anyone who thinks that's a good idea. Jack Ruben wants an outer T without buildings, and most of those I've talked to believe that the result would be windswept and bleak, with or without sculptures and paintings.
"We Wellingtonians" don't go into fits of self-righteous apoplexy when we learn about plans for a lively, urban waterfront: instead, we say "That's cool: we can't wait!"
If you disagree with what I'm saying, please say so in a comment: I'm happy to engage in informed debate on these issues (I've enjoyed my discussions with Andrew, for example), and it would be arrogant of me to claim to speak for WellUrban readers unless there is general support for my views. I don't want to turn this blog into a site for my ranting, but I do want to make it clear that Waterfront Watch do not speak for all Wellingtonians.