The Mt Eden Prison project: Mayor Banks and his fellow moaners can’t recognise an aesthetic facelift

Alf is amused by the fuss Aucklanders are kicking up over a $218 million prison development.

It towers over the Southern Motorway, says the Herald, casting a shadow across Mt Eden.

And it has “horrified” residents, principals and community leaders.

They are appalled by the project at Mt Eden Prison, and one city councillor believes the new block has grown higher than initial plans indicated it would.

We should not be surprised. Alf looks forward to many more bad buggers being banged up for a long time, under the Three Strikes bill we have just passed in Parliament.

We’ve got to put ’em somewhere.

An alternative is to buy up open spaces like Eden Park and the Ellerslie race track, which are only used occasionally, and fill them with containers converted for housing jailbirds.

In fact, Alf would have preferred this option.

He reckons the prisoners are on to a good thing, under the plans that are now proceeding. The buggers will get beds.

Maybe converted containers is the option favoured by Mayor Banks, too, because he is sounding somewhat stroppy about the prison development.

The building, due for completion by April, will provide 554 additional beds – and support facilities that will be shared by the Auckland Central Remand Prison.

Many of the cells will be above the level of the adjacent motorway.

That is of concern to Mayor John Banks, who last night blasted the new-look jail as a “an architectural monstrosity”.

“For people coming into the city, it says: ‘Welcome to the aspirational capital of New Zealand, where you jail people … and it’s great’,” he said.

“I can only hope that we are not going to see people with their noses pressed against the bars.

“It just should not have happened and I railed against it before it rose from the ground.”

We can forget about seeing noses up against the bars, apparently.

The Corrections Department says the windows would be frosted and inmates would not be able to see through them.

Great. May the villains never see the sun again, Alf urges.

Oh, and there will be “acoustic buffering” to dampen noise created by rowdy prisoners.

A bloke called Jeff Blackburn, chairman of the board of trustees at neighbouring Auckland Grammar, apparently is worried by the development.

He has drawn the attention of Corrections chief executive Barry Matthews to issues such as the security risks posed by a shared boundary fence, the prospect of shade ruining sports fields and the potential for prisoners to look on to the school’s grounds and for sound to carry from the new tower.

Alf can’t quite grasp the import of ensuring that prisoners can’t look at the school’s grounds, except they might blow the whistle on what they spot, such as pot smoking, shagging, or whatever.

Mt Eden resident John Kaminski, 20, a Grammar old boy, said prisons should not be so close to town. But the further you move them into the open countryside, the more you are blessing them with fresh air. Not a good idea.

But Newmarket Business Association chief Cameron Brewer is a bright bugger.

He says the $250 million-plus being spent on upgrading the site “is arguably going to improve the area aesthetically”.

“What [the] block rising from the ashes does is clearly remind people travelling through Spaghetti Junction in particular that there is a prison in the neighbourhood.”

Right on.

A few more prison blocks scattered around the city would make Auckland even better aesthetically, of course.

Alf will be having a chat with his colleagues to see if we can’t help out.

He will mention his container idea while he’s at it. The Auckland Grammar sports fields could be added to the list of sites that could be put to better use.

One Response to The Mt Eden Prison project: Mayor Banks and his fellow moaners can’t recognise an aesthetic facelift

  1. alex Masterley says:

    I can’t beleive how long it has taken the herald to notice the construction of the new prison block!
    The project has been underway for over 18 months!

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