Homes’ fate uncertain
THE FESTIVE season could take an unpleasant turn for families in Waterview, Owairaka and Mt Albert, with more houses yet to be acquired for the Waterview connection.
The New Zealand Transport Agency is holding a board meeting on December 17, where key decisions could be made about the State Highway 20 link.
Some fear that possible decisions could come at a time when families are winding down for the year.
Agency regional director for Auckland and Northland Wayne McDonald says 10 houses have been acquired since May in preparation for the link.
Of houses yet to be acquired he says: “Based on the May alignment, about 230, but we won’t know until after board decisions and the final design is determined.”
The board will address open space replacement, environmental impacts and other community concerns that arose at its August meeting.
“There will be a range of other agenda items. The board may choose to announce key decisions before Christmas, assuming there are some, via a general news release or similar.”
Mr McDonald says it is best practice not to attempt to engage with communities over Christmas or other key holiday periods.
“The board is therefore likely to ask the agency to provide detail about the project in the New Year, when people are back from holidays and are available.”
Last month a political liaison group, made up of Auck- land City Council officials and agency staff, discussed the need to ensure that upcoming consultation material was not released within the Christmas period.
The issue was also discussed at an Avondale Community Board meeting, where concerns were voiced over information being leaked if it were held back.
Board chairman Duncan MacDonald says regardless of the time of year, affected people need to know.
“I know it’s Christmas but wondering what is happening is just as bad. There is nothing worse than holding back information.”
He says families need to be told any news personally rather than finding it out through a newspaper.
Deputy mayor David Hay agrees and says notices for any major decision should go out and it’s silly to hold it back.
“You get rumours through the media,” he says.
Tunnel or Nothing Group spokeswoman Margi Watson says the liaison group meeting discussed concerns that people could be told two or three days before Christmas that they would lose their homes.
She says decisions on the final footprint for the Waterview connection could be made at the upcoming December meeting.
“It is not the time to be making major decisions, things will close down, people are on holiday. It is the one time of year people get away.”
She says engineers are still surveying Oakley Creek, Hendon Ave and areas along Great North Rd, and are drilling parts of the creek to check for water tables.