Motion to protect reserve from future sale rejected

Sunnyhills residents Sue Goldwater, left, and Frank Lombard are among the people who oppose the potential sale of the public reserve at 9R Fortyfoot Lane. Times photo Chris Harrowell
  • By Chris Harrowell and Laura Kvigstad, Auckland Council reporter, Funded by New Zealand on Air

An attempt to prevent Auckland Council from potentially being able to sell a local public reserve has failed.

Howick ward councillor Sharon Stewart put forward a notice of motion at the council’s finance and performance committee meeting on July 26 to repeal the revocation of reserve status of the park at 9R Fortyfoot Lane in Sunnyhills.

The reserve is among the properties the council wants to sell under its emergency budget in an effort to raise $244 million through “asset recycling”.

Before it can be sold a statutory process, which is being managed by Eke Panuku Auckland and entails revoking the park’s reserve status, must be followed.

Stewart’s motion was supported by the Howick Local Board and several Sunnyhills residents who attended the committee meeting and presented to its members.

It would have stopped the council from continuing with the process of potentially selling it.

Speaking during the council committee meeting, Stewart said there would be a tsunami of apartments in Howick and holding onto green spaces was important.

“Once it’s gone, it’s gone. When things come right for council and it one day will, we will need to buy more green spaces.”

Albany ward councillor Wayne Walker said councillors all knew intensification was going to happen with incoming Government policies which made green spaces more important than ever.

He said when a community overwhelmingly supports holding onto a property it was important for the council to listen.

Whau ward councillor Tracy Mulholland said the sale of the reserve in Fortyfoot Lane accounted for $1.74 million in the council’s budget and was a small sum for the value it provided.

“The public have made it abundantly clear they’re using the park for their enjoyment.

“Reserves are for community enjoyment and not cash reserves for council.”

Deputy mayor Bill Cashmore said the reserve’s sale allowed for reinvestment in the local community.

Without the sale of assets the council would need to implement a 10 per cent additional rates increase, he said.

“I would think every councillor has tossed and turned over the sale of the reserve land.

“Your heart wants to go, ‘let’s give this one back’.”

Waitemata and Gulf councillor Pippa Coom said the Fortyfoot Lane reserve benefited a very small neighbourhood.

“If we start unravelling every single sale then there is going to be a domino effect.”

Mayor Phil Goff said several councillors who supported Stewart’s motion had voted against the council’s budget.

“I am sorry, you cannot vote against every revenue-raising measure and for every spending measure.

“If you do not want to sell the properties, tell me how you are going to raise that $244 million?”

Goff said if councillors made an exception for the Fortfoot Lane reserve it would invite other communities in Auckland to ask for the same consideration.

Stewart and fellow Howick ward councillor Paul Young were among the councillors who supported her motion, which was defeated by 12 votes to eight.

The final decision on whether the park’s reserve status should be revoked lies with the Minister of Conservation Poto Williams.