Tourism chief Martin Snedden is fighting construction of
a concrete cycleway running past the family holiday home even
though it is considered a boon for tourists.
Mr Snedden's involvement comes after his wife, Annie, and
other holidaying neighbours objected to the track past their
lakefront holiday homes outside Taupo.
Legal action was threatened as concrete was poured, and the
town's mayor called in to find a solution - a special section
of track to "appease" those upset about the path.
Instead of concrete, the 100m section outside some of the
objectors' homes will be made of plastic matting, through
which grass will be seeded and grown.
The section will cost rate payers about an extra $10,000 -
but is intended to be more pleasing to look at than concrete.
The row cast a shadow over a $240,000 gift by former
transport company owners Matt and Heather Purvis to extend
the lakeside concrete walkway 1.7km along waterfront reserve
at Five Mile Bay.
The track, popular with walkers and cyclists, begins 10km
away in central Taupo.
While the donation and the plan for the concrete track were
notified in council agendas, letters to houses in the area,
council press releases and media coverage, objectors with
holiday homes say they had no knowledge of it until
construction started in December.
Among them were the Sneddens and their neighbours, Hawkes Bay
lawyer Peter Twigg and Wellington cardiologist Malcolm
Abernethy, who say they should have been consulted.
Contractors pouring concrete were met by Dr Abernethy, whose
pleas to halt were ignored until Taupo Mayor David Trewavas
arrived 90 minutes later with a senior council officer.
Dr Abernathy confirmed legal action was considered at one
Senior council officer John Ridd said the solution meant the
path in that area was now "limited to mountain bikes".
Mr Snedden dismissed the claim, saying the strip would be
able to be used by all once grass had grown through to
complete the path.
He also rejected any conflict with his role heading the
Tourism Industry Association.
"I think this is a private situation. I'm not the dominant
voice. I'm just someone expressing an opinion."
He said a lack of consultation with holiday home-owners was a
major factor in frustrations.
"They knew the residents here are people who are not here for
52 weeks of the year."
The home was a family retreat - Mrs Snedden had been going
there for 50 years and he had for 30.
"If people want to treat us as outsiders, they can - but
we've been here longer than most."
The objection wasn't against the path, which "goes nowhere".
"All it does is finish a little further on." He said it was
not properly suitable for cycling.
"You can't ride two bicycles side by side on this path."
An email by Mrs Snedden to the council, supplied by the
Sneddens, raised concern about the danger posed by cyclists
to children and elderly. She also said the narrowness of the
reserve in front of the holiday homes meant "the impact of a
concrete strip is visually more dominant".
Mr Trewavas said he hoped those objecting would help
ratepayers meet the cost, which included regular watering to
encourage grass to grow through the matting.
"They didn't like the aesthetics of the concrete. They
preferred it to have a slightly better look than concrete."
He said the solution was probably not permanent.
"This is a measure to appease some people for the moment."
Deputy mayor Keith Crate said those who lived in the area
were irked it was temporary residents who were complaining.
"They only come here for a week a year. It's arrogance."