Discussion of the matter of dealing with the triangular reserve near the railway station was resumed at last night’s meeting of the City Council, Cr Solomon said he considered that the resolution moved by Cr Fish at the previous meeting did not meet the case at all. He took it that they were not called on to consider what principle it was best to adopt, but how to treat the proposal that had been made to them. What was set forth by the resolution was that it was a proper principle to hand over a valuable reserve to a syndicate to build on. Instead being a proper principle, it seemed to him to be a vary vicious one, and he would therefore move as an amendment this Council, having considered the proposal contained in Messrs Stanford and Milne’s letter, and heard Mr Stanford’s explanation, resolves that the Town Clerk be instructed to write thanking Messrs Stanford and Milne for the offer submitted, and stating that the Council does not feel justified in entertaining such a proposal.” There were two alternative proposals submitted. One was that the whole Triangle should be handed over to a syndicate to do with as they thought proper, at a rental of LI,OOO a year. That he need scarcely argue against, as no one would rate for it. The other proposal was to hand over the whole Triangle for an annual rental of LSOO, free of rates and taxes for fifty years, and that on it the syndicate should expend the sum of L 25.000 or L 30.000. Mr Stanford’s explanation the other night was to the effect that there would be expended on the library L 3,000, on the market L 6.000, and on the baths L 3.500, this total sum of L 12.500 leaving over L 12.500 or L 17.500 to be expended upon such revenue - producing buildings (including offices, but not being shops) as the syndicate might think fit to erect. A sketch plan was submitted the other night showing what was to be built, and from it he observed that only about one-fifth of the space was taken up by the baths, library, and market, and the balance was to be used for the purpose of erecting those other buildings from which the syndicate were to obtain profit. The first question to consider was: could they get power to use this Triangle at all ? In his opinion they would not get permission even from the Lower House. It was pretty certain there would be extensively signed petitions from citizens against the proposal; but there was no doubt if permission were given by the Lower House it would be refused by tho Upper. There could be no doubt the Triangle was a proper site for a market —probably the best in the City—but he had no hesitation in saying It should be built, not by a syndicate, but by the Council, The Council owned gasworks and waterworks, and it was unquestionable that they own the market. There was no doubt in his mind that if this proposal were carried out that which had happened in the past would happen again. They had allowed private companies to build the gasworks and the northern waterworks, and had to purchase both at an immense profit to the sellers. If a market were erected by private enterprise, they would in the near future be driven to purchase it with the other buildings on the land at a very high price indeed. The question of whether the Triangle should or should not be built upon was one which he held they had not now to consider ; the only question to consider at present was whether to accept or reject tho proposition made by those gentlemen. Even supposing they had power to deal the land, and that it was thought judicious to let it to a syndicate, it should, he thought, go to auction. It was proposed that the ground should pay no rates for fifty years j but was it reasonable to think of a row of handsome offices being free of taxation for that time ? He had no hesitation in saving that if the Council handed it over as asked they would show themselves utterly unfit to be entrusted with the administration of the City reserves. "What the Council should reply could to summed up in half a dozen words—they could not if they would, and would not if they could. Cr Fish submitted that Cr Solomon a was not a legitimate amendment upon his motion, but this was overruled by the Mayor. Cr Kimbell stated that he would support the amendment because he was positive they had not the power to accept the offer; and if they had the power the way indicated by the motion would not be a good way of dealing with the matter. Cr Barron said that under the circumstances Cr Solomon’s proposal was probably the better. So far as the Triangle was concerned it would not be a bad thing if they had a little more power, so that in the event of a market being required they would be able to utilise the site. In the meantime he was in favor of it being left quite open and asphalted all over. Cr Sinclair said that no doubt if they could obtain the sanction of the Government It would be very desirable to have a market, baths, and library on this piece of ground •, but in the first place he doubted if the citizens would agree to the reserve being alienated, and in tho second he doubted if Parliament would grant the power. Should they in fact apply to Parliament for power to lease the land ‘and obtain a revenue from It, the Government might say that they
would resume possession of the reserve, seeing that it was not wanted for purposes of recreation. He supported the Mayor’s suggestion to consult the citizens in the matter. If anything was to bo done with the land it should be let, for his experience was that Corporations did not do things so well as private individuals —private enterprise could do things that public bodies could not do.
Cr Fish said he would waive his right to reply, and state that ho was not indisposed that the amendment should bo carried against his motion, in order that he might move a further amendment on it, which he hoped would meet with the approval of the Council, and satisfy such indecisive gentlemen as seemed to have no mind of their own without the dictation of the citizens. They were elected to form their own opinions with regard to what was right or wrong in the interests of the citizens, and the man who sat down waiting until the citizens told him what to do was, in his opinion, unfit to hold a public position. As regarded Cr Solomon’s statement that the principle was a vicious one, what was the principle in the resolution ? It meant that if the Council thought it right to utilise the reserve for certain purposes, then it would be perfectly right to lease it to private individuals for those purposes. By saying this principle was vicious, Cr Solomon virtually said that if anything was to be done in a public sense it must be done by a public body out of its funds, or not done at all. It assumed that no matter how necessary it might be to have a public market, baths, and library, if the Council was not in a position to do it out of its own pocket they must go without those necessary things. He did not agree with that in any shape or form. In order to obtain a good thing the principle of private enterprise, instead of being vicious, was a moat admirable one. Cr Solomon had asked if they had the power to lease the land; but that was not the question—the question was, could they get the power? The question whether Messrs Stanford and Milne’s offer should be accepted or not had never been debated yet, because it would be folly to do so until they had power to grant what was asked. Their offer, however, had raised the main question of whether the Triangle was to be utilised for public purposes or not, and that was the question he desired to have tried in that Council. A fig for Messrs Stanford and Milne ! Ho cared no more for their offer than for the fifth wheel of a coach. Because they had made an offer that was no reason why the Council should accept it. Cr Solomon, again, was doubtful whether the Lower House would grant the power, but ns regarded the Lords he had no doubt whatever that they would refuse, Cr Solomon’s arguments as to other matters of detail weie out of place in a discussion on the present motion. He was prepared to allow Cr Solomon’s motion to be carried as an amendment against his motion, with the purpose of moving a further amendment to that. And the amendment he would move would be this—“ That in the opinion of this Council it is desirable that the Triangle bo utilised for a market or other public purpose, and that a local Bill be submitted this session to give effect to those objects, provided the citizens by a vote give their sanction.” If the Council was of opinion by a majority that the Triangle should be used for a market, and wished to obtain the opinion of the citizens upon that point, his resolution would enable them to do that. The Harbor Board had no more claim to the piece of ground than individual councillors had. If the citizens desired to utilise their ground, he thought it would be a grand thing to get from it a revenue of LI,OOO a year to aid in the adornment of the City. Cr Cohen said that the discussion on the question had led him to the conclusion that the Council had for a long time been on the wrong taok. They had no right to consider the matter at all until they knew two things—firstly, if the citizens wanted the power to deal with the reserve; and secondly, if the Legislature would grant it. The proposal was quite a novel one, and it was their duty, as the representatives of tho citizens, to make sure what they wished to be done. Until he was satisfied upon the points mentioned he would never give his vote in favor of so startling a proposal. In the first place, all that the Council had been asked to consider was not whether it was desirable to get possession of the Triangle and utilise it, but whether the proposition of Messrs Stanford and Milne was such as the Council could seriously consider and entertain. He held that they had no right to consider it, and ho was quite sure there was no reasonable prospect of the Legislature agreeing to its being utilised in the way it was at present proposed. There was no better place than the Triangle for a market, but he did not think baths should bo there, nor a public library either. The Council had already satisfied the demands of the public by making baths at Pelichet Bay, and they had also assisted free reading rooms in two parts of the City, and he had no doubt that if efforts were made to establish other reading rooms in tho City and application was made to the Council, the Council would assist them in the same liberal spirit as Hey had done others in the past. They all knew that they could never have a public library until they found the citizens willing to pay for it and consenting to the striking of a rate for the purpose. If the reserve was to bo leased, he thought it should he thrown open for competition to the whole of New Zealand ; but if the citizens, by a substantial majority, desired the reserve to be set apart for market purposes, he thought the Legislature would sanction it; but ho would only consent to such a course after an expression of opinion by the citizens on the point. Any proposal from a syndicate he would strenuously oppose. Cr Smith said that tho reserve had come to the Council in a peculiar manner, and had been set opart for recreation purposes; and he thought the Council had a right to consult the citizens with regard to the way in which it was to be utilised. They would not be justified in dealing with it without the consent of the citizens. There was no doubt that the Triangle was admirably adapted for a market site, and was practically the only site available for a market in this town.—(Hear, hear.) Then it became a verv serious question for tho Council to consider whether a public market was to be under the control of the public or a syndicate. He thought there should be no two opinions about that. They had had troubles with syndicates before, in connection with tho tramways, for instance, and other matters ; while their experience of commercial matters would lead them to decide that if this piece of ground was to bo used for a market it would have to be under the direct control of the Council,
Cr Carroll said he would support the amendment. So far as the present proposal was concerned, ho thought they had no power to deal with it. As regarded the site being used for salt water baths, he did not think it was suitable for that purpose. The Mayor said it must be clear that they could not deal with the matter, they being simply trustees for the public. The citizens should be consulted about the matter, and if they said that the Council should divert the Triangle from its present purpose for revenue purposes, then he said most distinctly that the Council would be justified in doing it. He would like to ace a public meeting called and tho matter fully discussed, so that the citizens might be able to give a straightforward vote. The amendment was pat and carried by 8 votes to 3. Cr Solomon suggested that Ci Fish should allow this amendment to dispose of Messrs Stanford and Milne’s application, and then move another resolution dealing with the Triangle. Cr Fish said, provided the Council was willing to allow him to move the amendment he intended to move as a motion without giving notice of it in the ordinary way, be would agree to Cr Solomon’s amendment being carried as a substantive motion. The Council agreed to Cr Fish’s request, and Cr Solomon’s motion was subsequently put and carried as a substantive motion. Cr Flsh then moved the motion which he had previously expressed his intention of moving. As to holding a public meeting three-fourths of those who attended would not be ratepayers, and so important a question should not bo submitted to such a gathering. No vote should bo taken op such a question as this in the excitement pi a public meeting ; it should be considered with the utmost calm, and there could be pp
better way than to send round ballot papers to the citizens.
Cr Sinclair seconded the motion,
Cr Solomon said he would vote against the motion. He thought it would be a wise thing for them to rest and be thankful, being afraid, if they were not careful, they might in grasping at the shadow lose the substance, and that the Triangle might be taken from them. They should take time and think the matter over carefully. Cr Count? thought the matter ought to be brushed aside once and for all. He would like the citizens to give a decision as to whether it was advisable that the reserve should be utilised for the purposes proposed and by private speculators. Unless a very substantial majority were in favor of promoting such legislation, he would never vote for it.
The Mayor said there was evidently an erroneous impression as to the Harbor Board. As far as ho could ascertain the Board had not said a single word about claiming back the reserve, so it was inadvisable to bring in their name. So far as Cr Fish’s objection to holding a public meeting was concerned, he did not suppose there would be a vote taken, but only thorough discussion. As to the question being submitted to ratepayers only, he considered the thousand and one citizens who did not pay rates had every bit as much right to be consulted on a question affecting the City reserves. He hoped, indeed, to see the day when tho municipal roll would be the electoral roll, and every man would have a vote.
Cr Kimbell thought the motion proposed to go too far ; and he would move as an amendment—“ That this Council considers the Triangle reserve adapted as a site for a public library, art gallery, and market, and affirms the desirability of providing these requisites on this site by means of private enterprise.” This found no seconder.
Cr Carroll moved as an amendment the adjournment of the matter for a fortnight, thinking it had not yet been quite thought out.
Cr Hardy seconded this amendment, which was lost.
Tho Mayor remarked that it was as well, in his opinion, that some final issue should be arrived at.
Cr Cohen asked what was the probable cost of obtaining a vote of the citizens. Tho Mayor paid that it would be about L 25.
Cr Fish’s motion was then put and carried on the voices.
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THE TRIANGLE., Evening Star, Issue 7920, 30 May 1889
THE TRIANGLE. Evening Star, Issue 7920, 30 May 1889
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