Homes’ fate un­cer­tain

Central Leader - - Front Page - By Rhi­an­non Hor­rell

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.

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