Mount gets a facelift

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By EMMA WHIT­TAKER

YEARS of frus­tra­tion could be over for users of Mt Al­bert as a lon­gawaited restora­tion of the moun­tain’s sum­mit pro­gresses.

The eroded and pot­holed road that runs up to the sum­mit has been re­sealed and re­in­forced, and work is about to get started on the Owairaka Do­main Land­scape Master Plan.

The $300,000 plan drawn up by the former Auck­land City Coun­cil in 2009 will see tracks on the moun­tain im­proved, old bro­ken down fences re­moved, and more na­tive trees planted.

The plan came af­ter pres­sure from res­i­dents who were con­cerned by the then coun­cil’s lack of fund­ing and main­te­nance for the re­serve, but has taken un­til now to be put into ac­tion.

The Cen­tral Leader has been re­port­ing on the frus­tra­tions of res­i­dents since 2009.

‘‘It’s been a con­stant source of frus­tra­tion for lo­cals and their rep­re­sen­ta­tives over the time its taken to get works started,’’ Al­bert-Eden Lo­cal Board chair­man Peter Haynes says.

An at­tempt to re­seal the vol­cano’s road was made in 2009, but the ex­cite­ment quickly turned sour when the freshly laid bi­tu­men started to lift within days.

‘‘It was atro­cious, the lo­cals were so vexed,’’ Mr Haynes says.

Mt Al­bert MP David Shearer has had a num­ber of com­plaints from res­i­dents who are dis­ap­pointed in the ne­glected state of Mt Al­bert, or wor­ried about safety be­cause of the run-down road and tracks.

‘‘Peo­ple have felt their maunga has been over­looked, or treated as the poor cousin in com­par­i­son to oth­ers, like Mt Eden,’’ he says.

‘‘Proper care and main­te­nance is vi­tal be­cause Mt Al­bert is the jewel in our crown. It’s pre­cious and we need to look af­ter it for the long term. It’s great to see work has be­gun.’’

Auck­land Coun­cil’s act­ing re­gional and spe­cial­ist parks man­ager Richard Hol­lier says the de­lay in work is be­cause of the lengthy de­sign process.

He says all of Auck­land’s vol­canic cones have dif­fer­ent lev­els of use and needs and, while Mt Al­bert is very pop­u­lar with lo­cals, it doesn’t at­tract any­where near the num­ber of vis­i­tors that Mt Eden does.

Mt Eden at­tracts more than 1 mil­lion vis­i­tors each year and is a pop­u­lar spot for tourist groups.

‘‘With that kind of us­age it will at­tract more fund­ing,’’ he says.

Mr Hol­lier says there has been vary­ing lev­els of ser­vice for vol­canic cones across the city in the past be­cause of the pre­vi­ous coun­cils’ dif­fer­ent poli­cies on them.

‘‘With the cre­ation of the Auck­land Coun­cil we have been work­ing on try­ing to im­prove stan­dards of the cones,’’ he says.

The next stage of work in­cludes in­stalling speed humps while land­scap­ing will be­gin next year.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Timely main­te­nance: Mt Al­bert MP David Shearer takes a look at the newly sealed road that is part of the restora­tion work be­ing done to Mt Al­bert.

Flash­back: In Au­gust 2009 Mt Al­bert res­i­dent Bill Pike came to the Cen­tral Leader with his con­cerns about the di­shev­elled state of Mt Al­bert’s sum­mit.

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