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Another good attendance at Community Board forum

June 29th, 2016
[by David Armstrong]

Another good crowd turned up at the Motueka Community Board open forum last night, where once again flooding issues took centre stage.

Twelve people, plus community board members, attended and discussed a handful of issues which were of concern, in an atmosphere of free and open conversation, which standing rules do not permit at formal board meetings.

These open forums began last year, timed to sit between the six-weekly formal board meetings. For the first handful of meetings, attendances were very small, but the last three have been quite busy and certainly vocal.

At the last two forums, problems with flooding around High Street and Woodlands Avenue were reported by residents. This time it was the turn of people living in the north-west quadrant of the town including Poole Street, Wilkie Street, Fry Street and Jocelyn Avenue.

Five residents spoke strongly about being ignored by Council engineering staff when reporting problems in the area and being fobbed off by there being "no money available" to address problems of regular flooding, now even in moderate rainfall events.

It was largely agreed that problems have arisen or worsened as a result of the Te Maatu subdivision, which is on land to the east that was artificially raised.

"It's acting like a dam, stopping water from flowing naturally toward the pre-existing drains," said one speaker.

"We've told council engineers, but they are not listening. Many of us have been putting in complaints for years, but the engineers keep saying they're unaware of these complaints."

Another resident said that during several recent rain events he monitored the drain in Poole Street, which is supposed to be the main exit drain for the area. He said there's nothing wrong with the Poole Street drain, that it is coping easily, but water ponds from surrounding areas are not able to reach it.

"A 32-metre, 12 inch pipe (from the problem areas to Poole Street) would solve the major problems, but we are told there is no money," he said.

The drainage system for the whole area was supposed to be upgraded in 2011 as part of Council's program of works, but that was deferred at the time except for work on Parker Street. Any planned upgrade work for the remaining area is still at least two and possibly many more years away.

Council engineering staff had said they would attend last night's meeting, but then changed their minds, saying they wanted still further information and evidence from residents before they would attend a meeting.

Those affected who spoke last night handed in details, including photos in several cases, that will be passed on to Council by community board chairman Paul Hawkes. In addition, a survey of affected residents is currently being undertaken.

Paul said he was "totally committed" to making sure these issues were addressed and improvements delivered, and is acting as the conduit between residents and Council staff.

Bus service to Nelson

Also discussed was the rumoured stopping of the Naked Bus service between Motueka and Nelson from July 6, although details are not yet clear.

This led to a more general discussion about what the community board may possibly be able to do to help get a "workers bus" service at least trialled to see if it was feasible.

It was agreed that the only two options were to seek a subsidy from NZ Transport Agency funds, or to attract a private operator who could utilise local drivers.

Fearon's Bush development

Another concern raised was the seeming lack of a required management plan by TDC for work and ongoing usage of the Fearon's Bush and Top 10 Holiday Park reserve area.

Changes have been made to the reserve by Council's commercial arm against the wishes of many residents, and free access to the reserve is now no longer possible.

In fact, it was reported that two opponents of the developments - Beth and Tony Bryant - have been banned from the area since they provided evidence of the "illegality" of what has been happening.

Board members Paul Hawkes and David Ogilvie said they will check minutes of past community board meetings to see if the board formally approved any of the work, as well as confirm whether or not there is a current management plan, as required by the Reserves Act.

They said issues around management of the Fearon's Bush Reserve will be looked at as part of Council's review of all Motueka Ward reserves, beginning later this year. Paul said the community board will wait for TDC to create a draft plan for all reserves, and then make submissions on any aspects with which the Motueka people have problems.


Comment by Anne McFadgen:
[Posted 29 June 2016]

Has the status of Fearon's Bush been changed so that it is no longer legally classified as public reserve? If not, surely the public should be allowed access to it as of right. I note that Fearon's Bush no longer appears on the TDC's list of Parks & Reserves in the Tasman District, which is rather concerning. Good to see that the Community board is onto this issue.

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