Years of debate over vehicle access to Blueskin Bay will
come to a head in Warrington tonight, when the Waikouaiti Coast
Community Board considers the views of a divided community.
Board members will consider reinstating vehicle access to a
track leading to the bay, after it was blocked in about 2009
by the placement of two boulders at the board's instruction.
The issue has rumbled on since, as some residents lobbied the
board and the council to remove the boulders.
More recent complaints about a lack of consultation over the
placement of the boulders had prompted a rethink, board
chairman Gerard Collings said yesterday.
''I've looked back through and I think probably the board
could have discussed the matter a little bit more broadly
with the community.''
The board had invited feedback on the rethink, resulting in
43 public comments, split evenly between those wanting
vehicle access and those worried it posed a safety risk.
The responses included a petition signed by 141 people
calling for the boulders to remain but Mr Collings told the
Otago Daily Times the decision was ''not a popularity
contest''. It would be up to board members to decide what
weight to give to the comments, the petition and the views of
Dunedin City Council staff.
The board was expected to make a recommendation to the next
full council meeting on June 23, but could refer it to a
council committee if needed. Council staff, in a report to
tonight's meeting, said reinstating vehicle access would pose
The track was for pedestrians and not suitable for vehicles,
making it ''unlawful and dangerous'' to drive on and the
placement of the boulders legal, staff concluded. Some
residents asked the board to resist calls for the track to be
reopened to vehicles.
Jackie Hughes, on behalf of the Warrington Playcentre, said
the playcentre used the access track on visits to the bay and
worried children would be at greater risk if vehicles used
Others disagreed, including members of the Warrington
Ratepayers and Householders Association, who disputed the
conclusions of council staff and said claimed safety concerns
The track had been used as vehicle access for many years
without incident, which also rebutted claims it was too
narrow for vehicles, the association said. If the width of
the track was the issue, the association would ''happily
undertake widening of the road'' at no cost to the council.
Public Access New Zealand chairman Alan McMillan said safety
concerns were unjustified and the boulders were ''probably
without legal authority'' and should be removed.
The group suggested the board consider improving the track to
improve access to Blueskin Bay.
Mr Collings told the ODT he would ''like to think''
tonight's decision would resolve the debate, but that might
not be possible.
''The reality is that because of the community feeling, not
everyone's going to be happy.''
- The Warrington Ratepayers and Householders Association's
chairman is Sir Julian Smith, managing director of Allied
Press, publisher of the Otago Daily Times.