Tun­nel guts com­mu­nity

Auckland City Harbour News - - Front Page - By Heather McCracken

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.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Com­mu­nity hub: Water­view Kinder­garten com­mit­tee mem­ber and mother Margi Wat­son, with daugh­ter Tess, 3, says the planned tun­nel is bad news for the com­mu­nity.

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