Letters flush out grant

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Tarras School pupil Billie Willson was not mincing words when she wrote to newly elected Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan last month.

Billie and two other pupils, Dakota Greaves and Rowan Harrison, wrote to Mr Cadogan congratulating him on his success in the local body elections.

However, they also seized the opportunity to tell him of the need for a public toilet in the Central Otago village.

“Dear Mr Cadogan” Billie wrote.

“Congratulations on becoming our new mayor.

“The Tarras School and I have a proposal to make.

“For a long time now we have been fighting for a toilet facility.

“For a long time now travellers have been doing their business everywhere in our community.

“So to fix this we would like the council and you to build permanent toilets for Tarras.

“We know you’re adjusting to being the mayor and it’s a big thing to ask, but it would make a huge difference to us. It’s hygienic and healthy and it will make Tarras more attractive, not only for tourists but locals as well. It would mean the world to the Tarras community.” Billie Willson

The school, along with the neighbouring playgroup and other members of the community, has been fighting to get a public toilet built in Tarras for at least six years.

In March, tired of finding people relieving themselves in the school grounds, Tarras School arranged for a Portaloo to be installed near the front gate.

On Tuesday, Mr Cadogan made a surprise visit to the school to tell its 11 pupils the Government would provide $247,280 from its regional Mid-sized Tourism Facilities Grant Fund to help pay for the toilets and a treatment system.

“It is going to happen – not by Christmas but you are going to get your toilet,” he said.

“This summer will be the Portaloo’s last stand.”

The new toilet facility would be in place by June 30 at the latest, he said.

Mr Cadogan told the children it had been”good” to receive the letters from the pupils and one from the staff.

“If you make a noise and put a sensible case, you get what you want,” he said.

Central Otago District Council property and facilities manager Mike Kerr told The News the $247,280 in government funding would be added to the $370,000 the council had set aside in its annual plan for new toilets in Tarras.

The finished project could cost about $600,000, with the disposal/treatment system likely to absorb the biggest proportion of the overall cost.

It was possible land at the rear of the school could be bought for the disposal field.

Mr Kerr said the council’s “preferred option” was to enter into a “joint arrangement” with local businesses. However, if that did not happen there was now sufficient funds for the council to go it alone.

School principal release Melissa Johnson said the news was “amazing”.

“This is a saga that has gone on and on. The children decided to put pen to paper and look what happened.”