Extend cycle trail sooner than 2020
While welcoming a district council decision to extend Hauraki Rail Trail from Te Aroha to Matamata, the manager of the Matamata Public Relations Association says she would like to see it happen sooner rather than waiting six years.
‘‘Due to the high level of visitors it would be desirable to have it done by an earlier date like 2016,’’ Sue Whiting said.
‘‘ We’ve got the maximise that.’’
With Hobbiton generating a ‘‘staggering’’ $37 million in tourism, she said cycling tourism through the trail could easily gain the Matamata area $5 million a year.
Matamata would also benefit from the employment gained through the construction of the trail, she said.
In its draft long- term plan, Matamata-Piako District Council said the cycleway extension, via Manawaru and Tower Rd, will cost an estimated $4 million.
The council is suggesting developing the Te Aroha to Matamata link over two financial years (2018/2019 and 2019/2020).
‘‘This helps spread the costs and means smaller rate increases instead of one larger one, which will help to smooth rate increases over time,’’ council said in the draft plan.
‘‘While the project is a few years away, we’ve had to consider the rail trail alongside a number of competing priorities and our goal
of keeping rates affordable.
‘‘ Completing the cycle trail earlier would mean either larger increases in rates in the first few years of our long-term plan or deferring other ‘ nice to have projects’ to a later date.’’
The extension would be rated for across the district.
Matamata-Piako District Council has contributed $500,000 for construction of the Paeroa to Te Aroha leg. The rail trail also includes Waihi and Thames.