The Kaipatiki Local Board is ignoring the community by installing adult exercise equipment in Little Shoal Bay Reserve according to the Little Shoal Bay Protection Society.
Society chairman Tony Holman says a strong response from the community shows that many people do not want the equipment in the reserve, especially on the site proposed.
There are many reasons for the opposition, he says – mainly the high cost at around $80,000, unsightly structures and taking up green space.
Mr Holman says there has now been three consultations with the community.
The first, the board’s promotion of the project, showed around 35 per cent were opposed, he says.
The society also surveyed the same area which showed 90 per cent were totally against it.
“The board ignored this information, and the society’s submissions, resolving to proceed as planned,” he says.
The society then carried out a wider survey across much of Birkenhead Point and Northcote Point which showed 80 per cent totally against the proposal and an additional 5 per cent against the proposed site.
Mr Holman says board chairwoman Lindsay Waugh wrongly stated that the society was advised of the initiative more than two years ago and chose not to respond to the board.
It only learnt of the proposal secondhand, he says.
“We find it reprehensible that Ms Waugh is refusing to correct her statement in any meaningful way to the people she has misled.”
Ms Waugh says the board minutes are verified and are the official record of events.
“The recent survey was to canvas community views on the preferred location for the equipment and the board voted in support of the majority view and recommendation as recorded in our minutes.”
Ms Waugh says the project dates back to a 2010 Birkenhead-Northcote Community Board decision.
On June 14 last year the Kaipatiki Local Board then allocated $80,000 to facilitate the project subject to consultation with the community.
“It has been through several stages of the democratic process,” she says.
Auckland Council’s treatment of Kaipatiki area “reprehensible” P5
GREEN LIGHT: Adult fitness equipment at a cost of $80,000 is set to be installed at Little Shoal Bay.
Adult fitness equipment for Little Shoal Bay costing $80,000 is creating controversy.
The Kaipatiki Local Board voted five to three in favour of it at their April 11 meeting.
But the Northcote Residents Association, the Birkenhead Residents Association and the Little Shoal Bay Protection Society all want the board to reverse its decision.
Northcote Residents Association chairman Brian Plimmer says the “cash-strapped” board has found $80,000 for a project which no resident has asked for, while projects which the community have requested, some for a long time, cannot be funded.
Birkenhead Residents Association committee member Carol Scott says the association is concerned at the large sum allocated to the project that has not been generated by public demand and the encroachment into the green open space of the reserve.
Little Shoal Bay Protection Society chairman Tony Holman believes the proposal was at the outset “internally generated”‘ and not the result of public demand.
Community consultation on the proposal showed 62.77 per cent of people were in support of the project at the proposed location and 37.23 per cent were against it.
Mr Holman says the society carried out its own survey over the same areas covered by the board’s survey and its results showed 96 per cent against the proposed site and 85 per cent totally against the proposal proceeding at all.
Several people also spoke in favour of the proposal at the meeting’s public forum including Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust member support manager Di Vivian.
She says there is a great need for them to be able to access these spaces and places, both for their own good and the good of their grandchildren.
Kaipatiki Local Board chairwoman Lindsay Waugh says it isn’t an “unasked for project” and there is a lot of community support for the project including some very long-term residents.
Northcote MP Jonathan Coleman criticised spending on the equipment saying most people in the relatively affluent neighbourhood go to gyms.
But Ms Waugh says that was a big assumption.
Not everyone can afford gym memberships and it’s about the wider community and their different needss.
A group that has worked for decades to preserve Little Shoal Bay in Northcote is furious at a decision by the Kaipatiki Local Board.
Tony Holman, chairman of Little Shoal Bay Preservation Society, claims the board acted unconstitutionally by voting last week to install adult outdoor exercise equipment worth $80,000 on grass beside Council Tce.
Mr Holman says the 1997 Little Shoal Bay/Le Roys Bush Reserves management plan states the grassy reserve is to be used for open, passive recreation and that the area is to be protected for “its unique environmental landscape”.
He says the plan was formed after extensive public consultation and the board is riding roughshod over that process. As a former North Shore City councillor and chair of its parks committee, he believes he knows the situation well.
“It was a public process, a statutory process. Submissions had a common theme – to keep the area natural. That’s what’s in the development plan and what they should refer to in any decisions.”
But board chair Lindsey Waugh says the equipment will be in a section of park zoned for active recreation. “The advice I have had from council officers is that there is no legal reason that prevents the installation of this equipment.”
She says the location was recommended by parks officers because it is on a popular walking route.
“Support and demand … came from a number of sources in the community,” says Mrs Waugh. “It was brought to the attention of the Birkenhead/Northcote Community Board by the community co-ordinators several years ago, because it responded to the [former] North Shore City Council’s Auckland Regional Physical Activity Strategy.
“The popularity of the … adult fitness equipment at Shepherds Park [Beach Haven] led to subsequent investment in other parts of the Kaipatiki Local Board area.”
The board used a discretionary fund pool for this and equipment in five other parks.
But Mr Holman says this situation differs from Beach Haven’s. “Shepherds Park is a different kettle of fish. It’s an area designated for active recreation. That’s fine there, it’s a permitted use. The whole area at Little Shoal Bay is supposed to be for open, passive recreation. As soon as you start to build on it you interfere with that.”
Mr Holman says the plan clearly says no buildings should be erected where the equipment is planned.
“Other than replacement, no new buildings are permitted on the reserve. The definition of a building under the Buildings Act … is movable or immovable, temporary or permanent … a structure … These are structures and therefore they are buildings and I think they recognise that because they know they have to go for a resource consent.”
Mrs Waugh disagrees: “Exercise equipment is not classified as a building and is therefore permitted. The existing children’s playground was installed after the management plan was written so would have been subject to the same constraints as this proposal.”
The board did acknowledge that the equipment is not specifically permitted in the management plan “as this is 15 years old and the demand for outdoor fitness equipment is relatively new.
“[But] … it is not precluded under the objectives and policies of the plan. Consideration has been given to the relevant policies and objectives of the plan whilst choosing the location for the equipment to minimise its potential impacts,” the summary said.
Mr Holman says a better site would be across the road between the tennis courts, toilets and bowling club, on an under-used carpark.
“It would be much safer there. Where they are suggesting currently is a 30-second dash from a playground and beside a road. It stands to reason children will be drawn to running across to the adult equipment, with its own set of dangers.”
Ms Waugh says the chosen spot is safe and contained by a retaining wall. “Traffic in this area travels very slowly due to the large number of speed bumps on this road. The speed limit is 30km/h.”
She says the board delivered 255 questionnaires to the community and said 37 per cent opposed the equipment from the 36 per cent returned.
Mr Holman’s society also surveyed locals and its results contrast with the board’s. Largely the same area was surveyed, with an 84 per cent negative response from the 26 per cent of people who returned the 300 questionnaires.
Mr Holman says his group shouldn’t have to ensure decisions are made that protect the bay.
“That should be the responsibility of the board, the council and their officers. Why are they spending $80,000 on this equipment anyway? Why aren’t they getting on with other things [that] are in the development plan that have been approved but not begun?”
Areas needing attention include drainage from the reserve’s higher part to the flood-prone lower area, and the poorly designed sand wall which causes sand in the bay to be washed out to sea.
“This is the largest bit of inner harbour shore coastline amenable to having a decent local beach so kids can build sandcastles, but they can’t.”
Mrs Waugh says the board’s long-term plan includes advocating for resanding and mangrove management at both Tui Beach [Beach Haven] and Little Shoal Bay.
She also takes issue with comments by local MP Jonathan Coleman that the area’s affluent residents can afford gym memberships and therefore do not want the equipment.
“That assumes the park is for the exclusive use of those who are fortunate enough to live next door,” she says, adding the community has given “wholehearted support for this initiative”.
That doesn’t sit well with Mr Holman who insists the site is wrong.
“I believe the board’s decision is unconstitutional. They will say it’s only a minor thing, but it’s not minor to be putting active stuff in part of the park labelled for passive recreation and open space.
“It means specific management plans are completely subverted and mean nothing.” The largely unused car park where Tony Holman thinks the equipment would be better suited.
Written by: Denise Montgomery Photo/s by: Kellie Blizard Reprinted with permission: http://www.theaucklander.co.nz/news/little-shoal-bay-exercise-on-reserve/1350454/
For almost 31 years Northcote resident Tony Sharrock has been cleaning up what was once a run-down beach.
“As a little boy in the 1950s it was a run-down beach, now it serves up to 70,000 people,” he says of Little Shoal Bay.
Before it got cleaned up a lot less people would visit Northcote’s only beach.
On Sunday, November 1, he will again be preparing the beach for summer, as he has done each year since 1978, he says.
He is joined by Birkenhead and Northcote Pt residents, though a North Shore Times article last year also drew residents from Takapuna and Devonport, he says.
“We want it to be a better place for the whole of Auckland.
“It’s a place of beauty and it’s a children’s place.”
Run by Northcote Residents’Association, the event is now supported by the Auckland Regional Council Eco Project, and the ARC are providing sausages for a barbecue for volunteers on the day. Fellow supporter Northcote Tavern is also providing drinks for volunteers.
Children are encouraged to take part and participants must wear sturdy shoes and hats, while gloves and bags are provided.
The clean-up is on at 2pm to 4pm on Sunday, November 1, meeting at Sea Scout Hut and Halls Beach Changing Shed. For inquiries contact Mr Sharrock on 419-7430 or 021-708-274.
FAST-TRACKED: Replacing sand at Little Shoal Bay, pictured, and Halls Beach will cost $1.5m.
Up to $14 million of ratepayer money will be “frittered away” on parochial projects in a panicked spend-up before the supercity arrives, says Shore councillor Chris Darby.
Councillors outside the mayor’s so-called A-team challenged the spending plans for money from the sale of former council works department land in Albany.
Mayor Andrew Willliams says the money will go to “legacy community projects” that will benefit all Shore residents.
“Choosing between risking the survival of many of these long-planned community projects under the new Auckland Council or disposing of the old works site to guarantee their completion was an easy choice to make,” says Mr Williams.
But some councillors disagree.
Councillors Ann Hartley and Chris Darby say the process was based on political whims rather than proper analysis.
It’s not the way to run a $4 billion to $5 billion business. It’s panic stations,” says Mr Darby.
Mrs Hartley says the mayor threw her out of a debate in confidential on the issue after she challenged the selection process.
Just over $4m is being spent on three projects that shouldn’t be on the list, she says.
Instead, the council left off vital spending on air conditioning and insulation at the North Shore Events Centre which is used by 300 children for basketball alone, she says.
Resanding Little Shoal Bay and Halls Beach isn’t a priority and the Auckland Regional Council is challenging the worth of similar projects, Mrs Hartley says.
Money to buy land to protect bush isn’t a priority project either because there are hundreds of opportunities but the council struggles to care for existing reserves, she says.
A council contribution towards the Takapuna exhibition centre is a drop in the bucket because $9m needs to be raised, says Mrs Hartley.
Mr Williams says Mrs Hartley, a former mayor, Northcote MP and deputy speaker in Parliament, was being disruptive and ignored rulings from him as mayor.
Mr Williams says there “has been a full process that commenced on October 20, 2009, and all councillors had the choice to do their best for the city and their communities”. He says it’s common for councillors who lose the vote to claim due process wasn’t followed to revisit decisions or claim an initiative is a pet project “until their favoured initiative arrives on the council agenda”.
Strategy and finance committee chairman Grant Gillon says some councillors didn’t attend meetings where they could have put projects forward and complained afterwards. It would be hard to describe it as a spending spree because projects had to be already in train, says Mr Gillon. Bringing the projects forward and paying cash will reduce debt and interest payments in the future.
The council is due to seek tenders for the former works department land soon. The Auckland Transition Agency has approved the sale.
Mr Williams says the agency agrees in principle with the project list as long as they are cost neutral. Ad Feedback
They were presented for formal approval on Wednesday.
Projects identified for fast-tracking include:
Hurstmere Green redevelopment and visitor centre relocation, Takapuna $1 million
Highbury Town Centre upgrade, Birkenhead $1.5m
Shore Exhibition Centre, Takapuna $1.5m
North Harbour Stadium broadcasting and ticketing improvements $425,000
New footbridge for the Devonport-Takapuna walkway and green cycleway $200,000
Torpedo Bay walkway, Devonport, stage one, Sanders Reserve track, Paremoremo and other walkway upgrades $1m
Greenhithe skateboard park, Collins Park $150,000
Beach Haven Civic Square development $750,000
Birkenhead/Northcote community co-ordinator accommodation $600,000
ActivZone upgrade, Glenfield $650,000
Takapuna Aquatic Centre and leisure centre upgrades $800,000
Sand replenishment at Little Shoal Bay and Halls Beach $1.5m
New public toilets at Rosedale Park, Eskdale Reserve, Sunnynook Reserve $1.5m
Purchase of some reserve land for bush protection $1.2m.
FISH DUTY: Northcote College teacher Kit Hustler is monitoring the Little Shoal Bay stream for fish in his spare time.
Kit Hustler is passionate about Little Shoal Bay. He has been monitoring fish in the Little Shoal Bay stream since August last year.
The Northcote College teacher says they have a nice stream on their doorstep and the project is about finding out what’s going on in it.
“People said there were fish in there but nobody knew how many, what type or what they’re doing there.”
So he set about monitoring the stream with several of his students.
Some of them have now left the college but continue to help in their spare time.
They have been catching fish, weighing and photographing them before returning them to the water.
“It’s not high-tech stuff. If we want to protect them, we’ve got to know what’s there.”
But Mr Hustler says the more they do, the less they know.
“Anything we discover raises two or three more questions.”
He has discovered there are about six species of fish in the stream with the largest measuring about 22cm long.
“They’re obviously making a living here.”
He believes the fact they’re surviving in the stream is a testament to how well people in the area are treating the water.
Mr Hustler has been studying the impact gambusia – mosquito fish – have on other fish and is trying to discover if there is a pattern to which types of fish are located in particular parts of the stream.
They are also using temperature probes to assess any changes in water temperature.
Mr Hustler has been teaching at Northcote College for nine years and says it’s great to have a “lab” on the doorstep.
He says the plan is to get more kids involved because the project is a real biology lesson.
“That’s the attraction, we don’t actually know the answers,” he says.
Legal processes have been bypassed in the speed change proposal for a well-used road in Little Shoal Bay, authorities say.
Public feedback is being collated on North Shore City Council’s proposed speed change of 20kmh for a 100- metre section of road that runs through the reserve.
Currently the section of road has a 30kmh limit, as do 100-metre stretches of road at either side of the reserve, council transport infrastructure group manager Alan Wallace says.
But under the reserve’s bylaw which was established in the early 1990s, the limit should be 20kmh. This is supported by residents who made submissions at the time, councillor Tony Holman says.
Mr Holman, with support from councillors, is pushing for the speed reduction which has been subject to much debate and was put off for almost 20 years.
But they have not complied with a NZ Transport Agency setting of speed limits rule which requires it to consult with police and the New Zealand Transport Agency.
There is confusion as to whether the land should be treated as a legal road or reserve, Mr Wallace says.
It already has restrictions on heavy vehicles.
“It’s quite a unique situation that the road runs through a reserve,” he says.
“The land is designed as a reserve. There’s issues over what is its purpose. It’s an important road link.”
The 100-metre section is too small to impose the 20kmh limit, whereas the current 300-metre stretch of 30kmh is more appropriate, he says.
“It’s not long enough for police to observe,” he says of the proposed 20kmh limit.
Council parks policy and planning adviser Ezra Barwell says it’s up to councillors to decide what process they want to follow.
Advice from council’s transport infrastructure department will be presented along with public submissions to the council’s regulatory committee within the next few months, he says.
“What’s going to come out in this debate is whether the whole process is flawed.”
Shore resident and former mayor George Wood says council had been going through a “cack-handed” process and that about 6000 residents who may use the road could be affected.
In an email to Mr Wood, New Zealand Transport Agency legal counsel Emma Petersen said the council would need consent from the conservation minister but would be unlikely to get it if the setting of speed limits rule was not complied with.
“Despite the fact that the land used as a road is within a reserve, it is still under the control of the council, is available to the public and has been used as a road for at least 30 years.” Ad Feedback
NZTA plans to follow it up with the council, she said.