It’s full speed ahead for Rail Trail cy­cle track

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page - By KA­T­RINA LINTONBON and STEVE ED­WARDS

Mata­mata-Pi­ako Dis­trict Coun­cil is expected to make a fi­nal de­ci­sion about ex­tend­ing the Hau­raki Rail Trail cy­cle­way from Te Aroha to Mata­mata in the next few weeks.

Mayor Hugh Ver­coe said that, sub­ject to con­fir­ma­tion of de­tails, pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion on coun­cil fund­ing for Te Aroha Events Cen­tre and ex­ten­sion of the Hau­raki Rail Trail would be un­der­taken at the same time.

Te Aroha Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion chair­man Shaun O’Neill made a pitch to the coun­cil for $535,000 to ex­tend the cy­cle­way from Te Aroha to Mata­mata.

To save about $ 150,000 by us­ing top­soil from the cy­cle­way for the Tui Mine clean-up in Te Aroha, Mr O’Neill ‘‘wants it to hap­pen’’ in the next six months.

J Swap Con­trac­tors of­fered to com­plete work at min­i­mal cost.

The 36- kilo­me­tre leg, along Stan­ley Rd, Manawaru Rd and Tower Rd, would be de­vel­oped on road re­serve owned by the coun­cil.

Mata­mata Pub­lic Re­la­tions As­so­ci­a­tion Sue Whit­ing said this was the best time to build the cy­cle­way.

“This is an easy build and if we want to keep it at min­i­mal cost, now is the time.”

Mr O’Neill said the ex­tended cy­cle­way would be a fan­tas­tic as­set for Mata­mata-Pi­ako, provid- ing an op­por­tu­nity to more than dou­ble the dis­trict’s eco­nomic ben­e­fit from the ex­ist­ing trail.

Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Don McLeod said a full re­port on the pro­posed Te Aroha to Mata­mata leg would have to be pre­pared for the next Mata­mataPi­ako Dis­trict Coun­cil (MPDC) meet­ing on Septem­ber 12 be­fore con­sul­ta­tion was un­der­taken.

Mata­mata-Pi­ako Dis­trict Coun­cil con­trib­uted $500,000 from gen­eral rates for the Paeroa to Te Aroha leg, which cost about $1.3m.

Look­ing at both projects, he said the coun­cil must con­sider who ben­e­fits and who pays.

‘‘It’s too easy to stick ev­ery­thing on the gen­eral rates.’’

The coun­cil could look at a tar­geted rate – a flat fee for all ratepay­ers re­gard­less of the cap­i­tal value of their prop­erty.

Mr Ver­coe said the fund­ing re­quests came at a time when cen­tral gov­ern­ment was call­ing for lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to limit rate rises and trim debt lev­els.

‘‘The coun­cil has to look very se­ri­ously at se­ri­ous ex­pen­di­ture on non-es­sen­tial items,’’ he said.

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