Parking on park 'thin end of wedge'

The ''jewel'' of Wanaka - Pembroke Park - should remain ''sacrosanct'' for future generations of residents, one of the objectors to proposed car parking on the reserve says.

Fr Brian Fenton, speaking for the Friends of Pembroke Park (FPP) group, told yesterday's Wanaka Community Board meeting the proposal to amend the park's management plan to allow for the creation of nose-in parking along the southern side of the reserve was ''but a further incursion into the park's integrity''.

He said the park had already been encroached on by the Dungarvon St car park and it must be safeguarded against any further intrusions.

''Once taken, it can never be returned, and the council, as elected representatives of the ratepayers, should be among the first to want to preserve the heritage of Pembroke Park, not wanting to cut sections off it.

''It's a further thin edge of the wedge. Where will it all stop?''

Fr Fenton suggested levying businesses to provide parking for customers and installing a sign on State Highway 6 at the Haast turn-off pointing to Riverbank Rd, so motorists travelling to Queenstown were deflected from the Wanaka CBD, thereby reducing traffic flow in Brownston St.

He said future development of a secondary town centre at Three Parks would also lessen the demand for parking in the CBD.

Fellow FPP member Loris King said the group had begun a ''crusade'' in 1973 to ensure Pembroke Park was retained in perpetuity as a recreation reserve.

''That was 40 years ago and I'm afraid it hasn't been completely successful, because here I am again today.''

She said the parcels of existing road reserve that the council would convert into parkland as part of the proposal were ''utterly useless'' as recreation reserve.

Wanaka Chamber of Commerce president Alistair King said the chamber's board supported the proposal. Traffic flow on Brownston St during busy holiday periods and large events was ''diabolical'' because of cars parking along the gravel on the side of the park and encroaching on the road, he told the meeting.

''On behalf of the visitors in town, we particularly want to see more parking in Wanaka, particularly on the outskirts of the CBD.''

Fr Fenton said Mr King's comments showed the proposed car parks were viewed as an extension of the all-day parking facilities in Dungarvon St for CBD users, rather than being solely for users of the park as stipulated under the Reserves Act.

Board chairman Lyal Cocks said the differing views on the proposal meant it was important the public was given an opportunity to make submissions.

He said a provision for developing a further 60 car parks and six bus parks at the McDougall St end of the park should be removed from the management plan, as that would be a ''huge incursion'' into the reserve and would affect the connection between the park and the showgrounds. However, the proposed Brownston St parking was a ''sensible, safe solution''. lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz