Council back-pedals on cycleway
Matamata-Piako District Council has put the brakes on a suggested extension to the Hauraki Rail Trail from Te Aroha to Matamata.
Te Aroha Business Association chairman Shaun O’Neill along with the Matamata Public Relations Association’s Sue Whiting asked the council for $535,000 for a 36km leg, running along Stanley Rd/Manawaru Rd/ Tower Rd, on road reserve owned by the local authority.
To save about $150,000 through an arrangement to use topsoil from the cycleway for the Tui Mine clean-up in Te Aroha, Mr O’Neill wanted the project to be undertaken in the next six months.
MPDC contributed $500,000 from general rates for the Paeroa to Te Aroha leg, which cost $1.3m.
A staff report on the Te Aroha to Matamata extension looked at a variety of issues includ- ing maintenance costs, resource governance, land use and safety.
Corporate and legal services manager Michelle Hawthorne said the investigation found ‘‘nothing that is insurmountable’’.
The report said the council may wish to consider funding a detailed investigation including economic analysis ($5000), a safety study ($15,000), detailed costings ($5000) and consultation ($5000).
Mayor Hugh Vercoe said the council is being ‘‘pushed into a fast-track decision’’ to take advantage of the Tui Mine topsoil arrangement. ‘‘The value will still be there’’.
Deputy Mayor Jan Barnes felt the council should consult with the public on the issue. ‘‘It does connect our district.’’
The council will then ‘‘have the numbers’’ from the first full summer of operation of the existing trail, he said.
In a unanimous decision, the council voted to defer the item for consideration for inclusion
consent, in the 2013/2014 annual plan. Shaun O’Neill said the timing is perfect. ‘‘With the promotion the district will receive via Hobbiton and the cycleway, tourists are going to be coming to our district wether we like it or not.
The cycleway is a great way to link the district’s towns and attractions and the longer we can get people to stay in our district the better the district will do.’’
Mr O’Neill said while he firmly believes that now is the time to extend the cycleway, he respects that it is council’s decision to make.