Money needed to save river property
Park proposed includes native plants, loop track and and picnic area
Almost half the funds needed to purchase a $300,000 property near Luggate for a proposed river park have been raised but a deadline looms to find the remainder.
River conservationist Lewis Verduyn-Cassels said he had given $140,000 of the funds needed to purchase a 0.4 ha property at the Luggate Red Bridge from Contact Energy to build the park.
However, all the funds must be raised before July 21.
Verduyn-Cassels said it was a ‘‘day by day battle’’ but he was asking for people to donate and support the cause.
‘‘It’s a bit of a tall ask . . . At the moment I’ve gotmy fingers crossed.
‘‘The usual fund agencies take a long time and there just isn’t the time for that,’’ he said.
The proposed park would include a native plant restoration project, loop track, picnic area, longfin eel habitat and it was hoped it would be an example of best practice for sustainable management for river conservation.
Verduyn-Cassels was at a stalemate with Contact Energy over the property, where he has lived for the past 22 years, but the company gave him a lifeline to form the trust and raise funds to purchase the land after he requested an urgent postponement of its plan to sell the property.
Last week the Red Bridge River Park Trust was officially registered as a charitable trust.
The trust was structured to ensure the park’s operating costs, maintenance and improvements were self-funded through the lease of the on-site cottage where Verduyn-Cassels lives.
Verduyn-Cassels would work for the trust under the lease agreement.
The other trustees were archaeological consultant and project manager Matthew Sole, limnologist and freshwater ecologist Marc Schallenberg, teacher and education liaison Jeromy van Riel and alpine guide and safety specialist Benjamin Yates.