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Community Board mulls contentious issues

December 15th
[by David Armstrong]

The Motueka Community Board has set the platform yesterday for an interesting and perhaps controversial year ahead with long and sometimes edgy discussion on several key issues at its final monthly meeting for 2010.

The meeting spent much of its more than two hours discussing the report prepared and tabled by chairman David Ogilvie, which included the Board's draft submission to the TDC Draft Annual Plan, an upgrade of the library building, free Internet use at the library for non-residents, the Motueka Bypass and High Street congestion and freedom camping.

Draft Annual Plan: In the draft submission prepared for TDC's Draft Annual Plan (to be submitted next autumn), a request was placed for an extra $5 within the Motueka targeted rate to be spent on to-be-specified local projects. Cliff Satherley and Jack Inglis spoke against this, saying no more rates should be charged at this recessionary time and in any case the projects needed to be specified and known now.

David said what he had in mind were projects - such as improved footpaths, pram crossings, cycleways and maintaining the litter cart - which will be decided before the Annual Plan submission is finalised. These are works that the Council has said will not figure in its budget for the coming year, and David said (with some feeling) that it was frustration with the Council not doing things that Motueka has waited so long for that triggered his proposal for the extra $5 targeted rate.

The Board voted 4 to 2 against removing the extra rate, with the majority saying it should be retained in the draft submission and then to see what Motueka residents had to say about it in their own submissions. The Board's draft submission will be put to public meetings early next year, and will also be the subject of discussions between the Board and Council officials at that time.

Library extension or rebuilding: David Ogilvie's report looked at options for rebuilding the library as part of a new suite of buildings including the i-Site, Council offices and Library, such as where the i-Site building is now. All Board members were happy with that approach. Paul Hawkes emphasised that if a new building were to be the chosen option, it must be on a freehold, community-owned site.

The Motueka Library and free Internet access: The issue of the library's "free internet to all" policy (including non-residents) and how it is affecting commercial internet providers (reported here) drew strong opposition from Board members to the current situation. Mark Chapman said the competition of such public bodies to private businesses was "morally abhorrent", and pleaded for the policy to be changed.

It was explained that the policy is part of a contract with Aotearoa People's Network set under the previous government to provide equipment in exchange for universal free access, and this could not be changed until the contract came up for renewal, believed to be around the middle of next year.

The Board unanimously recommended that the Council should not renew the contract, and to send a letter to all private internet cafe businesses telling them of this decision.

Motueka Bypass: The outcomes of the public meeting on the bypass issue were discussed. Mark Chapman felt that the wishes of the High Street businesses had not been adequately considered, and he would like to see a survey conducted by the Board or Our Town Motueka to obtain their input. "We don't want another Temuka. We want Motueka to be promoted as a destination. It's hard enough as it is now, but it would be worse with a town bypass," he said.

The issue was still clearly contentious, so it was decided to carry over further discussion on it until the February meeting, at which Out Town Motueka and High Street business owners' opinions would then be available. David's recommendation - to advocate for the results of the straw poll from that meeting - was left on the table.

High Street congestion survey: David Ogilvie reported on the results of the survey provided through The Guardian in November. He was very pleased with the strength of the response - 110 people - and it showed a clear preference for the top four options: traffic lights at Pah Street, roundabouts at King Edward and Whakarewa streets and a new pedestrian crossing opposite The Warehouse.

One very interesting result was that, while any desire for temporary heavy traffic bypasses through Thorp and Queen Victoria streets received no support at the bypass public meeting, a significant number supported it in the survey.

Freedom camping: In the public forum before the Board meeting proper, Richard Percy spoke of the problems he was having with freedom campers in Marahau. In the meeting, other Board members expressed their distaste for the ongoing problem. TDC Corporate Services manager Murray Staite said the problem with enacting a bylaw is how to enforce it and extract fines. A frustrated Cliff Satherley said "We cannot not do anything".

The Community Board voted to write to the government and all MPs representing Tasman District expressing concern at the lack of progress in introducing a nationwide bylaw to address freedom camping.

Motueka River flood control: David Ogilvie spoke of his frustration when finding a report to TDC's Engineering Services Committee from Gary Clark and MWH which described the river as "nationally important" and requested that a management plan be established for the river. He said the existence of the report was not explicitly made public, just placed "buried" in many papers and on the Council's website.

"It made me so angry when I saw it," he told the meeting. "This is information which is absolutely vital for every Motueka person, and the council committee has just produced it as yet another report on its website and most people wouldn't know it was there."

Discretionary funding: The Board deliberated on three applications for discretionary funds. Dana Orrock-Binnington was granted $250 to help with his project which aims to promote Motueka as a musical and cultural hub through the "Songs in the Key of Motueka" festival and CD. The Motueka Group Riding for the Disabled was granted $500 to help pay for the resurfacing of its training area. And Motueka Online was granted $180 for the cost of renewing for one year the domain name and hosting service to keep the website going.

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