Keep trail natural, say Katikati locals

The trail beside the Uretara Estuary. Photo: Tessa Blackett.

A contingent of unhappy Katikati community members are taking their objections direct to a council meeting on Thursday.

A proposal by Western Bay of Plenty District Council to concrete 1.2 km of a grassed walkway in Katikati from the Bird Walk's new Yeoman Bridge around the estuary edge to the reserve at the end of Park Road looks set to go ahead, despite many in the local community not wanting it.

“This extension of the bird walk is a trail through a beautiful, natural-feeling, open green space with large trees, grass, wetland vegetation and views across the water to hills,” says Katikati resident Tessa Blackett.

“The area supports a wide range of wildlife, including a number of threatened bird species. We're walkers and cyclists and we think a 2.5m wide concrete path for this entire section would be like putting a road through it. It would not be appropriate, not be an improvement, and there are better options."

Royal spoonbills beside the trail. Photo: Tessa Blackett.

 

The proposal to concrete the walkway is “in the face of fierce opposition from 215 people who signed a petition when it was first proposed in 2017/18,” says Nan Hoggard, another resident.

 

“People who regularly use the walkway enjoy the grassed surface, it’s easier on feet, aesthetically pleasing, and is in keeping with the environment."

 

Nan says that there are “walkers young and old, cyclists, mothers with pushchairs, family groups, many people with dogs and mobility scooters”.

“It is a beautiful place for people to walk safely and in peace.”

Walkers on the trail beside the Uretara Estuary. Photo: Tessa Blackett.

 

“A postcard-type flier was in our letter boxes some weeks ago asking for feedback ‘before we pour the concrete’, the only option — white or grey concrete, with 10 days to submit.”

Nan was not impressed.

 

“It was the first indication that it was once again on the agenda,” says Nan.

“Now we are again faced with the probability of a concrete path along the entire length, at huge cost, and the many people we have spoken to who use the walkway and in the community do not want it paved.”

Tessa says the survey did ask the right questions to gauge community support for the proposal but the council feedback report presents results that don't match the questions asked.

A walker and cyclist herself, she supports the idea of a connected walkway and cycleway around the Katikati Peninsula and is appreciative of the efforts to achieve that, but she emphasises this is already a well-used walkway and cycleway.

“So it does not need "developing" with concrete to make it one and this wouldn't make the network more continuous,” says Tessa.

The trail beside the Uretara Estuary. Photo: Tessa Blackett.

She spoke at a recent Katikati Community Board meeting on behalf of others who also oppose the concrete path.

The proposal for concreting the 1.2km of grassed walkway is on the agenda for a Western Bay of Plenty District Council committee meeting tomorrow.

 

A report from council staff on the feedback from the consultation survey is being presented, and some members of the community will be speaking in the public forum in opposition to the proposal, with a contingent supporting them.

 

They are hoping to call a halt to the plan for a concrete path, and want the council to conduct meaningful, constructive consultation with the community on all the options, and take that feedback into account in deciding on any changes to this area.

Birds resting at a sandspit beside the trail. Photo: Tessa Blackett.

 

“There has also been speculation about the wants and needs of people with mobility access requirements, and there are questions around the challenges of steeper areas of this trail for some of these people,” says Tessa.

 

“Mobility scooters are currently used regularly along this stretch and there are multiple access points along the trail for people to get to areas on the waterfront.

 

“These could be enhanced with this in mind, including placing seats at viewing spots. Constructive community consultation would encourage ideas like this and enable those in the community with specific needs to have a voice too.

 

“We think a long wide concrete path for this beautiful green space on the water's edge would be a huge and very permanent mistake and we want to reason with the council and improve the communication and consultation,” says Tessa.

“It is a very contentious issue, yet not many people know about it apart from those who use it regularly or live nearby,” says Nan.

The council meeting is at Western Bay of Plenty District Council, Barkes Corner, Tauranga at 9.30am.

Royal spoonbills resting beside the trail. Photo: Tessa Blackett.

 




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1 Comment

Justified ? How?

Posted on 05-05-2022 08:07 | By SonnyJim

Certainly looks like a waste of money.... Unless there are potholes and the like, the concrete way will only attract speed cyclists with no interest in the natural aspects.

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