large rocks blocking a track to Blueskin Bay since 2008 are
to be removed and vehicle access reinstated as soon as
The majority of Dunedin city councillors present at
yesterday's infrastructure committee meeting voted to reopen
the illegally closed track at the corner of Bank and Bay Rds
in Warrington for a six-month trial to see if the perception
of issues was real.
Council staff confirmed proper process was not followed to
close the track in 2008, so it was closed illegally, but
still recommended it should remain closed until safety issues
with visibility, steepness and lack of traction could be
The Warrington community has been divided over the track for
years, with some residents concerned about safety,
particularly of pedestrians using a path where the track
rises to meet the formed road at the corner.
In proposing the reopening of the track, largely used
historically by people putting boats in the water, deputy
mayor Chris Staynes acknowledged the safety concerns but said
the track had been closed for six years and used for more
than 60 years before that, with no record of any accidents on
or near it.
''There is a lot of emotion and anecdotal evidence being
given that these rocks should stay and this is high risk, but
there's no recording that it has been in over 60 years. We
need to identify whether the need to keep it closed is real
or not real.''
Mayor Dave Cull said he did not believe there was sufficient
problem or proven risk with the track to justify all the
trouble over what appeared to be a ''short, straight track
with very good visibility'' and summed up sentiment around
the table that staff time could be better spent on other
''There are oodles of intersections and situations around our
town which are far more risky than this that we haven't
prioritised yet. Why are we going to so much trouble with
Crs Andrew Noone, Jinty MacTavish and Aaron Hawkins recorded
their votes against reopening the track, following an hour of
questions and debate.
That followed a submission at a public forum from a
representative of the Warrington Ratepayers and Householders'
Association, Sir Julian Smith. The group has been battling to
keep the track open since the closure was first suggested
about 15 years ago.
Sir Julian said he was ''horrified'' by the staff report on
the matter as it ''wants to echo a view probably promulgated
by the community council'', and questioned if anyone who
wrote it actually visited the site.
Staff responded it was based on visits and information,
including photos, from residents, as well as professional
safety advice from staff and others.
With the illegality of the closure confirmed, the only
remaining issue was safety, Sir Julian said, and there were
no concerns on that count as there was no record of any
safety problems in the track's long history.
He suggested other matters staff raised, particularly
concerns about visibility from the track, were mistaken or
irrelevant: ''It is a legal paper road and there is a public
right here that should be preserved.''
Cr Noone and Cr MacTavish said they could not vote for the
road to be reopened without more assessment of the safety
issues because of the level of concern among Warrington
residents, some of whom, Cr Noone said, had been equally as
concerned about it as Sir Julian, for equally as long.
Cr Hawkins was concerned about possible environmental effects
on the bay of the road reopening.
After the meeting, Sir Julian said he was pleased common
''It has been a long process. There have never been any
issues there and there aren't going to be.''
Transportation group manager Gene Ollerenshaw said staff
would visit the site next week to look at what low-cost
safety measures could be put in to make pedestrians aware of
the track once the rocks were moved.
He did not want to confirm a time for removing the rocks,
other than ''as soon as possible''.