Residents step up to fight council plan to sell reserves

Sunnyhills residents Sue Goldwater, left, and Frank Lombard are among the locals opposed to a plan to sell public reserves in east Auckland. Times photo Chris Harrowell

Local residents opposed to the sale of public reserves in east Auckland say they’re determined to keep up the fight.

Auckland Council’s finance and performance committee voted late last year to dispose of 83 council-owned properties across the city as part of an effort to raise money from “asset recycling”.

Among the properties it wants to sell are public reserves at 9R Fortyfoot Lane, Sunnyhills; 111R Golfland Drive, Botany; 76R Aberfeldy Avenue, Pakuranga; 72R Karaka Road, Beachlands; and part of the site of a gas station at 2R Ti Rakau Drive, Pakuranga.

The properties’ sale is being managed by council agency Panuku Development Auckland.

Panuku has asked the council’s regulatory committee to appoint six independent commissioners to consider public submissions made about revoking the properties’ reserve status.

The commissioners’ recommendations will be reported to the council’s parks, arts, community and events committee to decide whether to forward reserve revocation requests to the Minister for Conservation for final approval.

More than 1140 submissions, all of which were opposed to the move, were made to the council about the parks having their reserve status revoked so they can be sold.

Among the locals opposed to the plan to sell the reserves is Frank Lombard, who lives beside the small park at 9R Fortyfoot Lane.

He hopes he will be able to speak to his submission in person when the process begins.

“The independent commissioners are making a recommendation to the council to decide on whether to forward a request to the Minister of Conservation to uplift the reserve status.

“I know they are saying they will recommend we’re given the opportunity to be heard, but there’s no assurance we’ll get the opportunity.”

Fighting the reserves’ sale also are residents Rashna Tata and Michelle Varga.

They created the Save Our Aberfeldy Reserve Group and posted a petition online that drew more than 500 signatures in support of the cause in just a week.

Tata says the “sheer volume” of people who oppose revocation of the reserve status is so large the council cannot ignore it.

“Residents have been united in their opposition.

“Our green spaces are the lungs of this city. Once they are gone they will be lost forever.”

She says the council will not be able to fix its financial problems by disposing of assets such as parks.

“Selling our reserves is never going to plug that.”

That view is shared by Varga, who lives across the road from the park in Aberfeldy Avenue.

She says the council wants to sell the reserves to plug a deficit in its budget due to the impact of Covid-19, while property rates and water charges are increasing.

“Selling reserves is going to destroy trees and increase carbon emissions.

“The council has conveniently ignored that, only to then raise it in a different section in their 10-year plan.

“The east Auckland community is opposed to reserve sales.”