It’s full speed ahead for Rail Trail cycle track
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.