The below is an article written by Katie Chapman of the Dominion Post. She's captured the last three months since the arrival of Harriet extremely well so I'll not try to improve it and will instead paste in full:
Justin Lester chokes back tears as he describes the terrifying moments after his second daughter was born. With the family finally all together in their Johnsonville home, the Wellington city councillor gently strokes Harriet's back as she snoozes contentedly on her mum's chest - looking the size of a baby just a few weeks old, not 14 weeks.
Harriet was whisked away to Wellington Hospital's neonatal intensive care unit moments after she was born two months early on November 4.
After accompanying the vulnerable 1.8 kilogram baby, Mr Lester returned to his wife, Liz, only to discover she'd been taken to surgery after losing too much blood.
The two events combined were terrifying, and for a few moments he was worried he'd be a single dad to Harriet and her big sister, Madeleine, 2.
"With Harriet it was pretty scary . . . but with Liz, it was pretty upsetting. Essentially she was pretty close to dying."
Now all home and with Harriet weighing in at 4kg - and starting to show the family's stubborn trait - the couple are full of praise for the staff who helped them through the first two months.
"I just cannot say thank you enough to those lovely, lovely people," Mrs Lester said.
"We never for a moment felt that we couldn't trust them."
Mrs Lester's waters broke at 30 weeks and she was in hospital until Harriet was born at 33 weeks.
After Harriet arrived, she was whisked off and Mrs Lester didn't get to see her until later that night when she was out of surgery.
"They wheeled me in in a bed that night and I reached my hand in and touched her back for five minutes, which is not that nice of course - you want a cuddle, you want to have a baby with you."
That was the start of a "limbo" life between hospital and home as Harriet gained strength and fought an E. coli infection. She came home four weeks later but was back in hospital with a cold in days - ending up on life support for two more weeks.
"We were just so lucky that we got in there [to hospital]. She just crashed so quickly. It wasn't even back to square one - it was worse than square one."
Mr Lester agreed: "She was fighting, but at the same time, without all the assistance she was getting she wasn't going to survive."
The unit sees up to 1000 babies a year, with up to 40 on the ward at any one time.
Neonatal nurse unit manager Rosemary Escott said babies stayed from 24 hours to 4-6 months. Parents could be overwhelmed.
"The role requires parents to be involved and to take each day at a time. We tell them it's their job to focus on the baby and it's our job to worry about everything else."
Council officers have advised that Brooklyn Library is seisimically prone and that the required stregthening works are not feasible given the cost and the impact it would have on the configuration of the building. If you live in Brooklyn and enjoy the current library service this is less than ideal.
As a result Councillors have asked staff to look at alternative accommodation options, be it within a nearby school or the Brooklyn Community Centre. In particular, I support the concept of hubbing with other facilities and hopefully this will hve mutual benefit, be it via WCC contributing to rental payments, assisted staffing levels or financial contributions to existing facilities.
It's taken a while, but we've finally signed off on the Council's Long Term Plan. If you don't work at the Council it's unlikely you'd know what this means so I've set out a description below and some of the highlights for the northern suburbs in particular.
Every three years Wellington City Council publishes its "Long Term Plan", which sets out the city's plans for the next 10 years. The Plan includes information on what we'll do, how we'll do it, how much it will cost and how it will be funded. The 2012 Plan was signed off in June and includes the following projects for the northern suburbs:
- $18.5m to build a new Johnsonvile Library that caters for the northern suburbs growing population. This work will start in 2015/16.
- $2m for new changing rooms and dedicated pools children's play and learn to swim at Keith Spry Pool in 2012.
- More than $5m funding for significant roading arounds in Johnsonville to ensure alignment with the new Johnsonville Mall. This is expected to start in 2013.
- Funding for the completion of the Tawa Shared Path (walking and cycling).
- The construction of a new artificial sports turf at Alex Moore Park in 2013/14.
- $380,000 for a community walkway and planting at Alex Moore Park in 2015.
- $650,000 for the re-development of Grassless Reserve in Tawa in 2013-14.
I was stoked to be at the opening of the biggest rope-climbing playground in New Zealand at Johnsonville's West Park School last week.
The rope-climbing playground is designed for children aged 5-15 but after a rigorous testing process I can confirm that it can also accommodate 33 year old males if they feel so inclined. The structure is 2 metres high and is an old-school playground in that it's more challenging than modern playgrounds and is designed to improve physical fitness. Interestingly it can hold as many as 300 kids at a time, although I'm not sure this has been tested to its full extreme yet.
The playground is a partnership project between the School's Board of Trustees, Wellington City Council and the Ministry of Education, which is beneficial because it is utilised during school hours by West Park School school kids and after school and on weekends by the community.
The total cost of the project was $170,000.
New World supermarket opened on the 6th of December 2011 and work continues on the remainder of the Churton Park Retail Centre. This is a fantastic addition to Churton Park and has been well received.
The Council is continuing negotiations to lease space for the proposed Community Centre and they are close to being finalised. It has been frustrating for all at the length of time this has taken, but I have received assurances from Council staff that the lease documentation will be completed by the end of March 2012. It is likely that the project would have to re-apply for funding if the lease is not finalised by 30 June 2012, which does not bear thinking about!! Hence the urgency that is now being assumed.
Construction of the new Amesbury Community Hall is well underway, with the school having opened on the first day of 2012 school year (see picture below) and the hall planned to open by the start of the second term in 2012. Congratulations to the school’s Board of Trustees, led by Rory O’Connor, for getting there on time.
Council investment of $850k in the school hall will provide approximately 60% more floor area than was allowed for in the original school design. The hall will accommodate 2 badminton courts, kitchen facilities and storage and will get consistent usage by school users and community members outside of school hours.
The proposed hours of community use are:
During school terms:
Mon to Fri: 3.30pm to 10pm
Weekends, public and school holidays:
7am to 10pm
New Playground in Churton Park’s Amesbury Drive
The Churton Park Community Playground on Amesbury Drive has been completed alongside the new school. A pedestrian crossing was also constructed in consultation with Amesbury School and local residents.
Both look great and are being well-utilised.
It's been a busy year and we're finally winding down into Christmas. I'll put my newsletter out in the new year because I suspect no-one will want to read it now (not sure they ever did anyway!). There's a fair amount going on including some decent progress on the Johnsonville Mall project and ths associated roading infrastructure, which is badly needed up here, construction continuing at the Amesbury Community Hall and design work being undertaken on the Newlands Centre upgrade.
The plan for 2012 is to ensure the imminent upgrade of Keith Spry Pool, some beautification projects in Tawa and confirming funding for Johnsonville Library. All the northern suburbs are asking for is their fair share of the ratepayer pot, no more no less.
City wide there's a pressing issue at Zealandia and I'll be on the working party of 3 councillors, the Mayor, Alan Isaac and council staff to see how the future lies there.
Otherwise, have a great break, meri kirihimete, enjoy the sun and hopefully some runs backyard cricket.
Together with the Johnsonville Progressive Association I'm trying to get new signs installed to welcome people to Johnsonville. The signs will be similar in size and style to other signs seen in Glenside, Ngaio, Khandallah and Island Bay, but it's important they are unique and represent Johnsonville.
I'd be interested in people's ideas for designs or whether they have thoughts about a particular location. The City Life newspaper ran an article on the idea last week and they are also collecting feedback on our behalf.
The next step will be to finalise the design and location and then obtain a resource consent. Once we've got that the signs can go up.
Convention centres are all the rage at the moment and the issue is likely to be raised in Wellington shortly.
While Wellington doesn't currently have a modern, purpose built facility of significant scale, between the Michael Fowler Centre, the Town Hall, Westpac Stadium, Te Papa, the Amora Hotel, the Intercontinental Hotel and the newly refurbished Macs Brewery venue, one could argue that their are a plethora of existing options that each offer between 300 - 2200 seats.
Sky City has been selected by the Government to build a new 3500 seat centre national convention centre in Auckland. The company will fund the full $350 million cost and the economic benefit is deemed to be about $90 million a year.
Melbourne's new Convention Centre, completed in 2009 on land adjacent to the existing Melbourne Exhibition Centre, cost A$1 billion. It includes a 5541 seat hall, 32 meeting rooms, a grand banquet room, a Hilton hotel, office, residential and retail space.
Wellington doesn't want or need to compete on this scale, but there's no reason why the quality and setting can't be equally impressive or better. We have a number of existing options, but are they of a sufficient quality to attract quality national or international events? And if we build it will they come? Most importantly, any project needs to have a sound business case and be sure that it ahave a good chance
If something was to be built, a logical solution might be to refurbish an existing waterfront building such as Shed 1, Shed 6 or the TSB Arena. You would be hard pressed to find a more dramatic outlook anywhere in the world and it could add to the waterfront's vibrancy.
So, do we need one and if yes, where will it go? I suspect we might hear more about this over the next year or so.
There was a bit of hullabaloo recently about a council proposal to lower car speeds on local roads to 40km/hour. Depending on which side of the fence you sit on and your personal or family circumstances this is either a great idea or the stupidest thing you've ever heard. I've had feedback suggesting both.
My problem with the proposal was that council sought to consult on a blanket 40km/hour across the entire city before it received feedback from Wellingtonians. The proposal didn't take into account topography, street-scape, crash history or the vagaries of the different Wellington wards. Lambton, for example, which includes the CBD, Thorndon, Brooklyn and Te Aro, has much narrower streets, more off-street parking, more pedestrian activity and greater congestion than other areas.
When it came to council we amended the proposal to take these considerations into account, which gives us the opportunity to look at different treatments depending on the area and whether 30km/hour, 40km/hour or 50km/hour is appropriate. We're now going out for consultation and hope to have your feedback soon.