Tunnel guts community
WATERVIEW residents are angry politicians have backed a tunnel project they say will tear the heart out of the community.
Parent Margi Watson told Auckland city councillors last week the Waterview connection tunnel would kill the suburb.
“It takes out our green space, our kindergarten and our school,” she said. “It tears the heart and the future out of our community.”
In a tearful presentation to Thursday’s transport committee meeting, Ms Watson said she took great pride in Waterview.
“It’s not a rich suburb, it’s not a flashy suburb, we’re not all the same colour. But it’s home to lots of families and this motorway is going to kill it.”
But chairman Ken Baguley used his casting vote to confirm the council’s support for the tunnel, after the six members were evenly divided.
Earlier Mr Baguley was questioned by councillor Cathy Casey over whether he’d seen the Waterview tunnel site.
After taking advice from officers on whether to answer, he said: “I have not been out there.”
Ms Watson says she is frustrated by the decision.
“It’s one man’s decision and he’s never been here,” she says.
She says community members will make their own submission to Transit, but council backing was crucial to their bid.
“We don’t have the money to go to the Environment Court so at the end of the day what would have saved our community was the council supporting us.”
Transit’s plan for a tunnel connecting Mt Roskill and Waterview, linking State Highways 20 and 16, would mean less disruption for suburbs along the route.
But Waterview Kindergarten will have to move during a five-year construction period, and Waterview Primary school will lose its playground and swimming pool.
School board of trustees members Robert Black and Justin Newcombe told the meeting the plan puts the school in jeopardy.
The roll of 140 children could plummet when 100 houses are scrapped to make way for the tunnel opening.
And remaining schoolchildren would be affected by fumes from a tunnel vent nearby.
Mr Newcombe said the council needed to represent their concerns to Transit.
“You can’t make a decision like this and not take some responsibility for the community.”
Councillors changed their submission to Transit to refl residents’ concerns, including asking for the vent to be moved away from the school.
But in a separate decision, Mr Baguley used his casting vote to confirm the council’s support for the project as a whole.
Transit says several hundred comment forms have already been received on the plan. Submissions close on Friday.
Community hub: Waterview Kindergarten committee member and mother Margi Watson, with daughter Tess, 3, says the planned tunnel is bad news for the community.