Funding means toilets are go

Tarras School pupil Billie Willson (10) high-fives Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan yesterday after an announcement the settlement's toilet problems will soon be over, while the school's other pupils celebrate. They are (from left) Jack Willson (13), Aster
Tarras School pupil Billie Willson (10) high-fives Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan yesterday after an announcement the settlement's toilet problems will soon be over, while the school's other pupils celebrate. They are (from left) Jack Willson (13), Aster Stroud (6), Dakota Greaves (9), Bronny O'Sullivan (8), Jake O'Sullivan (9), Dart Watson (12), Kelan Stroud (9), Rowan Harrison (7) and Cash Watson (7) Absent: K'Dence Harrison (11). Photo by Jono Edwards.
Tarras may soon be relieved of toilet troubles, but it will first have to last through a summer during which it will be flush with tourists.

Associate Tourism Minister Paula Bennett yesterday announced $247,280 from a new Regional Mid-sized Tourism Facilities Grant Fund would help pay for toilets and a septic treatment system in the township.

It is one of 14 tourism infrastructure projects to get a share of $3.05million in funding.This will be used by the Central Otago District Council for the task on top of the $370,000 it has already set aside.

Tarras has no public toilets and Tarras School has battled the problem of tourists climbing over its fence and relieving themselves on school grounds for years.

Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan said the process had taken a long time because work needed to be done to achieve the significant increase in the council's budget that was required for funding the project.

When he started as mayor he received one letter from the school and one each from three individual pupils, Billie Willson, Rowan Harrison and Dakota Greaves, about the problems they had been facing.

''Tourism is a great thing. But it has a flipside,'' he said.

He announced the news to the children at the school yesterday.

''There are still some things we have to fix, there are still some problems we have to solve, but the biggest one is always money, and it's solved,'' he told them.

Council property and facilities manager Mike Kerr said the ministry funding required the money be used by June 30, but he hoped the project would be finished ''many months'' sooner.

However, it would be unlikely to be completed before February, he said.

The toilet block would likely be somewhere in a car park area next to both the school and a group of shops.

''I imagine there would be about four toilets. You have to be able to cater for peak times.''

The whole project would cost between $380,000 and $550,000.

The council was talking to the Ministry of Education about using land at the back of the school for the disposal field to pass through.

''The school board has indicated they'd be happy with that.''

The design for this was almost complete, but the project would require both Otago Regional Council and district council consents.

Until then the school would rely on a Portaloo at its gate to cater for tourists, which the council has had in place since March.

It opened up the Tarras Hall toilets as a temporary solution last summer, but ''it couldn't cope'' with that much use, Mr Kerr said.

The council was still talking to local businesses about the potential of sharing the running costs of the toilet.

School principal release Melissa Johnson said the news was ''amazing'' for the children.

''It's been such a mission. It became a real problem.

''We're definitely still having problems even with the Portaloo.''

One of the children even volunteered to become a ''tourist monitor'', she said.

''It's that entrenched in their brains.''

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