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Community Board mulls water reticulation subsidy

February 9th, 2011
[by David Armstrong]

A subsidy for a water reticulation supply in Motueka was just one of several issues faced by the Community Board yesterday at its first official meeting for 2011.

Other issues exercising Board members' minds included the Memorial Park hedge, a landscape design for Motueka's entrance, High Street traffic lights and other problems to be addressed with NZTA, new footpaths, freedom camping and reserves funding.

Reticulated Water Supply:  TDC's Utilities Asset Manager Jeff Cuthbertson addressed the meeting, aiming to gain approval from the Board for TDC to apply to the Ministry of Health to take part in the Drinking Water Subsidy Scheme. About 75% of Motueka households still use private bores, and in those unreticulated areas there is therefore no pressurised firefighting water supply. Motueka remains one of the largest communities in New Zealand without a fully reticulated public drinking water supply.

Last December the Government made many changes to the rules for who could receive subsidies, and these have affected the basis for considering whether Motueka would qualify. Based on the new rules, TDC has rejigged its plan and now is in a position to apply for a subsidy to complete reticulation, and it needs the approval of Motueka as expressed through its Community Board.

Board chairman David Ogilvie expressed reservations, fearing that if a subsidy was granted then Motueka would have to go ahead with full reticulation, despite the known fact that many residents do not want reticulation and the costs associated with such a project.

Clearly exasperated, Jeff said he was not there to argue about the quality of supply or other associated issues, just to see if the Board approved or not. "If you say no, I won't be wasting any further time and money on it."

Mayor Richard Kempthorne suggested an amendment to the motion, explicitly ensuring that if a subsidy is granted the community would then be able to be consulted as to whether or not a reticulation project should actually proceed, given knowledge of the likely costs and the amount of subsidy available. The motion thus amended was then passed.

[The issue of drinking and fire-fighting water supply to Motueka is a vital one, so we are including a link here to Jeff's three-page detailed report as presented to the meeting (PDF format).]

Memorial Park hedge:  Following further arson attacks over the past year, the burnt sections of the hedge have been removed and strips of a two-rail, ranch-style fence plugged the gaps. Cliff Satherley suggested and it was agreed that the rest of the hedge should be replaced in the same way as an interim measure, but that investigations should take place into growing another hedge all around, plus improvements to the lighting in the area.

Motueka's southern gateway:  Following David Ogilvie's report to the Board (see our news item here), the Board agreed to ask for funding to develop a landscape plan for the road from Robinsons Road to the clock tower intersection, and that Keep Motueka Beautiful and NZ Transport Agency be invited to take part in planning.

High Street traffic lights:  Also arising out of David's report from the chair, it was again stressed that an overwhelming number of Motueka people agree that the main key to making vehicular access across High Street safe and reliable would be the installation of traffic lights at the Greenwood Street / Pah Street intersection. The Board agreed that NZTA, which has the final say, must continue to be informed that this plea be heard and adopted, and that it be notified to the Agency to be included on the agenda of the next liaison meeting in a few months.

At that meeting NZTA will also be asked to address the errors made last year when rebuilding High Street North near Birdhurst, when the drainage system was left in such an inadequate state that the road floods with any heavy rain.

New footpaths:  The Board was informed that TDC's tender for the next round of new footpaths and mobile scooter crossings in the Motueka ward had been delayed because it had been possible that additional funding could have been available, but this did not eventuate.

Freedom camping:  The Environment and Planning Committee of TDC had reported that a model bylaw for all of New Zealand is now unlikely, but improved infringement powers would be made for those districts with bylaws in place. TDC is investigating what the other neighbouring councils are doing and hope to work with them on wording of a "Top of the South" bylaw for freedom camping.

Reserves finances:  TDC Community Services Manager Lloyd Kennedy addressed the meeting to explain some budget changes that resulted from predictions of a large drop ($300,000 to $220,000) in projected income for the Motueka Reserves account, caused by the economic downturn and fewer new buildings.

The proposed result would mean that while extra funds would be needed to purchase the Bruce Mitchell "Kaka Beak" sculpture and for investigations into the enlargement of the Motueka Library, four projects already on the long-term plan for this year would be considered for deferral: the Goodman Park Ponds, the Old Wharf playground, allocation of new toilets, and new works on the Imagine Theatre.

Councillor Jack Inglis and Board member Mark Chapman were not present but sent their apologies.

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