Board divided over asset sales

The Howick Local Board, from left, Bo Burns, Bruce Kendall, David Collings, Bob Wichman, chairwoman Adele White, Mike Turinsky, Peter Young, deputy chair John Spiller, and Katrina Bungard. Photo supplied Auckland Council

Members of the Howick Local Board were divided over a plan to raise money by selling a number of Auckland Council-owned properties in east Auckland.

The board’s members took part in an at times contentious debate on the issue during their business meeting last month which was conducted online due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The agenda for the board’s August business meeting says the council recently passed an emergency budget that requires $224 million to be realised from asset recycling.

Thirteen properties were identified in the board’s area that are no longer required for a current or future public work requirement.

The recommendation put before the board was to vote on the properties’ disposal as a block, but several members objected to that.

Board member Mike Turinsky said he didn’t support the sale of the council property at 2R Ti Rakau Drive.

“We need to think long-term and disposal of this one is short-term thinking,” he said.

“Given the strategic location of the property and the future development of Pakuranga Plaza, and the potential benefit of the AMETI Project, I believe this property should be retained.”

Board member David Collings said he agreed with Turinsky.

Board chairwoman Adele White disagreed, saying, “I believe this is one we could easily dispose of”.

Turinsky said he also opposed the proposed sale of the property at 116R Reeves Road in Pakuranga, as did Collings.

Regarding the property at 80 Vincent Street, Howick, which is a public car park, Turinsky said one of the proposed key outcomes of the board’s plan is a prosperous local economy supporting business growth and opportunity.

“Based on that thinking, about the benefits or economic stability, I do not believe it’s prudent to dispose of a car park to the detriment of local ratepayers and businesses in the area.”

Board member Bob Wichman said he agreed with Turinsky.

The board’s members then discussed the potential disposal of a property at 20 (part) Uxbridge Road in Howick, before member Bo Burns responded to Turinsky’s earlier point about a prosperous local economy.

“Actually a car park doesn’t bring a prosperous economy,” she said.

“A new business does. So when these sites are sold for new businesses to be built we all must agree that we are spoilt in Howick compared to Parnell or other areas that have very little parking or have to pay for parking in some cases.

“It’s great to have disability access but they’re not going to be sold and kept as car parks. That doesn’t generate money for the local area.

“It will be generating new money and new businesses to our area.”

White said she felt the board was “missing something” about the purpose of selling the properties.

“When we went into this we were very upset and very concerned that we had to potentially sell properties in our area and I can understand why we felt like this,” she said.

“However, there is a need to sell these properties and a need to do it with regard to the emergency budget and these properties are already listed for potential asset recycling.”

The board eventually voted to endorse the disposal of six of the properties, being 2R Ti Rakau Drive, 116R Reeves Road, 2R Bucklands Beach Road, 80 Vincent Street, 20 (part) Uxbridge Road, and 65 Haddington Drive, with caveats attached to several of them.

The board did not endorse the sale of four properties, being 9R Fortyfoot Lane, 76R Aberfeldy Avenue, 111R Golfland Drive and 31 Aspiring Avenue/17R Hilltop Road/legal road in Clover Park.

Three other properties were removed from consideration due to further advice from council staff.

The properties’ potential disposal went before the council’s finance and performance committee on September 17.

It voted to dispose of all 10 properties the local board discussed at its August business meeting.