Con­ser­va­tion plan needs spon­sor

Central Otago Mirror - - WANAKA NEWS - By MARY-JO TO­HILL

A con­ser­va­tion-minded pa­tron is needed to keep the idea of the Red Bridge River Park afloat, other­wise the pro­posal could be sunk.

That’s the mes­sage from the char­i­ta­ble trust’s spokesman Lewis Ver­duyn-Cas­sels.

Given a 35-day ex­ten­sion to raise $300,000 to­wards the for­ma­tion of the pro­posed river park near Lug­gate, the light­ness of re­lief was quickly fol­lowed by the heav­i­ness of a bur­den.

‘‘It seems al­most im­pos­si­ble for a small char­i­ta­ble trust to raise all the money by Au­gust 25. We have lots of sup­port­ers and donors who have given what they can af­ford, but what we re­ally need is a pa­tron or two in­ter­ested in na­tive restora­tion and fresh­wa­ter ecol­ogy to help the trust over this hur­dle . . ."

Ver­duyn-Cas­sels said he was sur­prised and ini­tially heart­ened at the re­prieve granted by Con­tact En­ergy, which owns the .4 hectare block the trust wants to buy. But he was still aware that the trust would have to more than dou­ble its fundrais­ing ef­forts.

As a re­sult of an ini­tial ex­ten­sion, a $147,000 of­fer was put on the ta­ble by the July 21 dead­line this week, but the trust would need to raise $153,000 more for the block, which in­cludes a cot­tage and her­itage fea­tures.

This sec­ond ex­ten­sion was of­fered by Con­tact En­ergy hy­dro project man­ager Neil Gillespie who was ap­par­ently "mind­ful of the com­mu­nity fundrais­ing ef­forts" and recog­nised that the trust needed "more time to raise the re­quired $300k," Ver­duynCas­sels said.

While it was a re­lief to have more time, it did not re­lieve the bur­den of hav­ing to come up with so much money in so short a time, he said. Ver­duyn-Cas­sels was also dis­ap­pointed that ‘‘cor­po­rate in­ter­ests are con­flict­ing with con­ser­va­tion in­ter­ests.’’

‘‘The trustees would like to find a so­lu­tion for con­tact, the trust, and the com­mu­nity.’’

Photo: MARY-JO TO­HILL

Pon­der­ing ways and means: A big task lies ahead for Lewis Ver­duyn-Cas­sels and the small Red Bridge River Park Trust to raise $300k by Au­gust 25.

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