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KMB addresses path maintenance cost issues

April 26th, 2016
[by David Armstrong]

Ongoing maintenance costs have forced Keep Motueka Beautiful (KMB) to close off some of the paths in the "Adopt-a-Plot" restoration area off Old Wharf Road.

The committee has agreed on a new plan for path maintenance, whereby the main through routes and interconnections will continue to be maintained to cycling or walking standards while some that are used less often will be allowed to be grown over.

When the plot adoption scheme began eight years ago, whereby individuals and community groups "adopted" small sections of the reclaimed area to plant and maintain, the paths were useful to separate and provide access to all plots. (Photo shows the area in its early days.)

However, with the cost of path maintenance - mainly topping up the fine gravel as it is eroded away - at roughly $1.00 per metre per year, and the total length of paths well over a kilometre, some rationalisation is now required.

The maintenance of the two perimeter paths and the central cycleway are the responsibility of Tasman District Council. The remainder are KMB's responsibility.

KMB has agreed on a total path length of approximately 710 metres to be maintained by itself, and about half that much again will be allowed to return to a natural state.

This situation highlights a problem that all development groups such as Keep Motueka Beautiful face, in that a new facility, funded by capital works, then requires ongoing maintenance which the group has to pay out of its own pocket.

Most environmental and reserves improvements are prone to this concern. We all know how maintaining gardens is an ongoing and sometimes costly task, with replacements, wear and tear, pruning and weed control.

In KMB's case, this is of particular concern, because most of its projects are in Council reserve areas and are funded through Reserves Financial Contributions (RFCs), the money that subdivision developers pay Council as part of their development costs, which matches new housing with required infrastructure and amenities.

It's a Catch-22 situation: Community groups are encouraged to make improvements to the new or existing reserves and paid from the RFCs, but then can provide no funding to maintain those improvements.

The KMB committee is presently caught between wanting to take on new projects but finding it very difficult to pay for the maintenance of projects it has essentially completed.

The Adopt-a-Plot area is one such situation, and the group needs to find new ways to raise money for this. Much of its present operational funding comes from donations from responsible campers at the Beach Reserve camping area.

In its 2016/17 budget, Keep Motueka Beautiful plans to set aside $700 to do maintenance work on half of the remaining Adopt-a-Plot (now being called the Inlet Gardens) paths for which it is responsible.


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