Thursday, April 18, 2024

Nervous wait for reserve sale opponents

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This small public park in Sunnyhills is one of a group of properties Auckland Council wants to sell in east Auckland. Times file photo

People campaigning to stop the potential sale of multiple east Auckland public reserves will soon find out if their efforts have paid off.

Auckland Council voted in late 2020 to dispose of 83 properties it owns in an effort to raise money from “asset recycling”.

Included are public reserves at 9R Fortyfoot Lane, Sunnyhills; 111R Golfland Drive, Botany, 76R Aberfeldy Avenue, Pakuranga; 76R Karaka Road, Beachlands, and part of the site of a gas station at 2R Ti Rakau Drive, Pakuranga.

Council agency Eke Panuku Development Auckland is managing the sale process.

A statutory process must be followed before sites classified as reserves under the Reserves Act 1977 can be sold.

The council publicly notified its intent to revoke the reserve status of 20 properties across the city in February last year.

More than 1340 submissions were received, of which 1145 related to the east Auckland properties.

None were in favour of their reserve status being revoked.

Two independent commissioners appointed to consider public submissions have heard from people who wished to share their views and completed site visits to the five local properties.

They’ll submit their recommendation report on whether the reserve status should be revoked to a meeting of the council’s parks, arts, community and events (PACE) committee schedule for June 9.

An Eke Panuku spokesperson says if the committee decides to forward a request to the Department of Conservation (DoC) to uplift the reserve status of some or all of the properties, all written submissions and the commissioners’ reports and hearing submissions will be included for consideration.

The final decision lies with the Minister of Conservation.

Rashna Tata and Michelle Varga are two of the passionate locals behind the Save Aberfeldy Ave Reserve community group.

Varga says the group wants the commissioners to recommend no local reserves, or any across the region, have their reserve status revoked.

She says they should listen to people who oppose the reserves being sold, including locals, ratepayers’ groups, and the Howick Local Board.

“Our Auckland councillors representing east Auckland were also not in favour of selling reserves to recoup council’s lost revenue due to Covid-19.”

Frank Lombard, who lives beside the small park at 9R Fortyfoot Lane, says he wants the commissioners to tell the council to take the “massive public feedback” in support of keeping the reserves into account and stop the process.

“The council said they will consult local residents and the residents gave them a clear message it will have a big impact on local communities if they continue with the selling of the reserves.

“For our particular reserve we hope the commissioners recommend it is a pocket park as opposed to a neighbourhood park, due to its size, that will enhance the community in light of the nearly 30 houses being built across nine sections next to or close by the reserve.”

Cockle Bay Residents and Ratepayers Association chairman Laurie Slee says the group “sincerely hopes the commissioners will see sense”.

“This is particularly true when the council is also being obliged by legislation to provide for intensification, meaning access to green spaces for recreation will become even more important as people lose their own private garden or yard areas.

“Selling off irreplaceable assets like reserves is not the solution to a budget deficit.”

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