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Community Board ponders new and old trees

December 11th, 2013
[by David Armstrong]

Motueka's trees past and future took centre stage at last night's meeting of the Motueka Community Board, the final one for two months.

An expected showdown over the request by High Street retailers to remove or replace the present golden elms (see our earlier story) was defused when the matter of "urban forestry" (large trees in the urban streets) was passed on to the Council to provide a report for the March meeting.

Before this, however, the two sides of the argument were summarised strongly. Board chairman Paul Hawkes passed on a litany of complaints about the mess the fallen seeds and leaves of the golden elms make for shopkeepers.

Board members David Ogilvie and Cliff Satherley said that the matter was addressed some 10 years ago through the Community Board, and they consulted with Our Town Motueka to reach an agreement to leave the trees.

They also pointed out that it was the shopkeepers at the time who asked for the trees - and golden elms in particular - to be planted in the first place, to add some natural beauty to an otherwise tired and boring streetscape.

Paul said that they would work with Council to look at the issue again, and that he wanted the matter to be "put to bed" once and for all. He urged that if the trees were to go, in his opinion it could only be if other trees replaced them.

New trees
Earlier in the meeting, Keep Motueka Beautiful representative Isobel Mosley and TDC Horticulture officer Kathy Curnow presented their proposal to plant an avenue of approximately 45 trees along High Street between the roundabout and Courtney Street, following the undergrounding of the power lines early next year.

TDC has advised the beautification group on suitable trees, with the short list now being Persian ironwood and Trident maple, both low maintenance, medium sized, deciduous trees.

The Community Board agreed to support via its letterhead a letter to be sent to affected property owners, saying this would be a good project to improve the visual impact of the main approach to the town.

Old trees going, going, gone
The Board discussed a detailed and lengthy report by Kathy Curnow covering the proposed removal of some well-known trees in the central town, as well as an account of trees which were lost, damaged or removed during and following the high-wind storm on October 16th.

The Board endorsed her proposal to remove the large Paulownia on the road reserve at 48 Tudor Street due to weaknesses found, and the two small maples in the garden bed in front of the museum due to them having already grown larger than expected.

David Ogilvie spoke strongly about the "vital importance" of retaining as many trees as possible in Motueka.

Work is continuing on the removal of stumps left from damaged trees, and to plant replacements in places such as the southern end of the Goodman Recreation Reserve.

Much of the discussion on this matter was on the length and detail of the formal report, some saying a lot of time would be saved if a much simpler report or request format was used.

However it was acknowledged that cutting down large trees can have emotional impact on many people and it is better to do it in a considered and consultative way rather than leaving Council staff to decide for themselves.

Wallace Street toilets
At the November meeting it had been decided to get a security camera installed and then keep the toilets beside i-SITE open 24 hours a day. Last night the meeting heard that they were having difficulty getting a second quote, so it was decided to go ahead anyhow with the change of time as soon as possible for the tourist season. Special Projects
At the end of the meeting Paul Hawkes read out the results of community voting on the Special Projects" budget. The top three project suggestions were a twice-yearly rubbish collections for large household furniture and for green waste, contribution to a Litter Cart collection for central Motueka streets, and construct 5 pram crossings for mobile scooters.

The next three, trailing the first group somewhat, were a water fountain for drinking in High Street, murals along central areas of Motueka, and lighting to illuminate the 'Motueka' sign at the southern entrance to Motueka. A total of 115 forms were submitted.

Parklands School / Museum entrance
Marion Edwin, chair of the Parklands School Board of Trustees, told of a new project to be started around March next year to redesign and reshape the museum forecourt, part of which is Parklands land.

The project is a joint one led by the school along with the Museum Trust Board and TDC, with groups like Vision Motueka and Keep Motueka Beautiful assisting. The fence dividing the school entrance off from the forecourt will soon be removed in preparation.

Bell Stephenson Architects will conduct brainstorming sessions open to the public to come up with concepts on how to optimise the use of this prime space.

Discretionary Fund request turned down
One application was made for money from the Board's discretionary fund. The Renewables, a group seeking ways of using local renewable resources where possible, applied for $448.25 to build a trial biochar-making facility.

Biochar is charcoal created from burning wood such as orchard waste in a deep trench, which after crushing is mixed into the soil to improve soil quality.

The Board declined the application with voting 3-2, saying they thought the group should get volunteers to dig the trench manually or through friends with front-end diggers. Some also said if it was commercially viable then the farmers should pay for the trial.


Comment by Chris Salt:
[Posted 14 February 2011]

The Motueka trees are an established feature that 'make' the townscape. The tree-drop issue only happens for short periods. When I had a business in town I had to sweep up from time to time, but I accepted it as part of the natural cycle. To remove them would be environmental sacrilege. Leave our lovely trees alone! Reduce them to 6m - why? Do a canopy thin from time to time and get a broom. Most people need the exercise anyway.

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