I love this idea! Can you turn on the nav:side page for the new template? I see the page exists, but it's currently not displaying, probably because it needs to be enabled in site manager.
I think that combining the packages with some new basic startup site templates will go a long way to simplifying the site creation process and take some of the fear and learning curve out getting a functional site running out of the blocks. Rather than just picking a "look and feel", the users can select the type of site they want start with, be it a blog, wiki, photo gallery, discussion forum, etc.