Saturday, May 25, 2024

Residents celebrate victory in fight to save public reserve

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Bad weather failed to dampen spirits at a community barbecue staged at Golfland Park last Sunday. Times photo Chris Harrowell

A passionate east Auckland community has come together to celebrate winning the fight to maintain public ownership of its much-loved local reserve.

About 100 people turned out last Sunday for a free sausage sizzle at Golfland Park, which was among the large number of properties Auckland Council eyed for sale in an effort to raise $244 million from “asset recycling”.

The sale of local public reserves is opposed by community leaders including Botany MP and National Party leader Christopher Luxon, Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown, the Howick ward’s two councillors and the Howick Local Board.

An effective community-led effort by local residents saw the council recently vote to not move forward in trying to revoke the reserve status of the park in Golfland Drive, which is part of the legal process that needs to be followed before it can be sold.

Joining a large number of happy locals at Golfland Park on Sunday were Luxon, Howick ward councillors Sharon Stewart and Maurice Williamson, and Howick Local Board chairperson Damian Light, deputy chair Bo Burns, and member and former chair Adele White.

As well as the sausages being served up there was also free bottled water and live music provided by two talented singers.

Luxon delivered a short speech, thanking the residents who led the effort opposing the reserve’s potential sale, including Neil Pinkerton, Roger Schneiderman and John Mooney, and all those who participated.

“You’ve done a brilliant job stepping up and leading and activating this community, this amazing neighbourhood,” he said.

“Thank you for being so smart about how you made your submissions [opposing the sale] and for celebrating the success together.

“This is what happens when people step up.

“We believe in the National Party there are three big actors in society.

“There’s the Government, which sets the rules and the frameworks and enables stuff to happen.

“There are businesses that move with great speed and scale, and there’s the community that sees the need, the hurt, and the frustration and what’s needed on the ground.

“That’s exactly what’s happened here. The community has stepped up and delivered something really special.”

The Times spoke with Pinkerton, Schneiderman and Mooney in early 2021, when they were campaigning to save their reserve.

They’d circulated a petition objecting to the proposed sale that at that point had been signed by people from more than 450 local households.

Their main concern was, if sold, the reserve could be used for high-density housing and such a development would not be in keeping with the character of Golflands’ neighbourhoods.

“It’s a public reserve that’s used by our children and for recreation,” Schneiderman said at the time.

“To take that away from people would be hugely disappointing. The council has to see that.”

Pinkerton wondered what the council would do next if it was able to sell the reserve.

“This is one thing now but how far does it go, and what else are they going to do after that?

“Is it going to continue right through until every green space is gone? Where does it stop?”

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