Alternative rail trail plan
A two-man band is inviting Matamata people to a public meeting about the Te Aroha to Matamata section of the Hauraki Rail Trail.
This meeting is being headed by retired dairy farmer Derek Lugton, who said he was motivated to suggest changes because he wants the proposed trail’s route to include more historical sites in the route. He is not a cyclist.
Lugton wanted the MatamataPiako District Council to start on the cycleway this Christmas to make the most of the ‘‘booming’’ Hobbiton instead of starting it in 2018, as the council proposes.
If he gets public support Lugton said he wants to form a trust that could help the council find more funding. He is willing to contribute between $5000 and $10,000 of his own money.
He has decided to hold the meeting after mentioning the idea to his bank manager, Ian Johnson. ‘‘I just want to gauge public opinion. If [the public] don’t want it then I will let the matter go,’’ Lugton said.
He has submitted to the council on the issue, which is part of the draft Long Term Plan.
The council’s communications officer, Adele Preston, encouraged all residents to have their say on the draft LTP. People can see all the information and give their feedback via the council website or by visiting any council office.
Lugton said he understands his preferred route, which would basically follow Old Te Aroha Rd, would likely double the council’s $4 million preferred route, as there would be more bridges and a challenging gradient.
His preferred route would incorporate the Kaimai tunnel, a memorial to the DC3 airplane that crashed in the Kaimais, Wairere Falls and the Crystal and Opal Springs. Both Stanley Landing, where there is a winch that used to bring goods up the river, and the Firth Tower Museum would be showcased via Lugton’s and the council’s proposed routes.
Lugton said he had not yet had time to approach people at those sites to gauge their support. He felt getting consent to use land from landowners could be an issue.
He said some cyclists have said the council’s preferred route, which would follow Stanley Rd and then Manawaru Rd and Tower Rd, was similar to the Te Aroha to Paeroa and Paeroa to Thames cycleway, which were boring.
Lugton said it could be possible to combine his and the council’s proposed routes.
The public meeting will be held at the Matamata Memorial Centre on Thursday, April 16 at 7.30pm.