Council thrift worries boards

Saddle Hill Community Board chairman Scott Weatherall takes a look around the Brighton Domain. ...
Saddle Hill Community Board chairman Scott Weatherall takes a look around the Brighton Domain. The board and Dunedin City Council have had ongoing discussions about maintenance and improvements at the domain. Community board chairmen are asking the council not to ditch their local projects in an effort to save money. Photo by Dan Hutchinson.
As Dunedin city councillors consider spending for the coming year, community board leaders hope small projects in their areas are not overlooked.

While community board chairmen understand the need for the Dunedin City Council to look at ways to save money, they are asking the council to remember the needs of the smaller communities in Dunedin.

Compared to large projects such as upgrades at the Tahuna wastewater treatment plant or Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, community boards are concerned about things such as maintaining and improving roads, domains and vegetation, and painting public toilets, which all have low costs.

Mayor Dave Cull said there would be projects within communities that the council would not be able to find money for, just as there would be for every council department and other organisations in the city.

Increasingly, the council was looking at ways to partner with community boards and other organisations to get projects done, particularly when the project was local, Mr Cull said.

One way was for the council to buy materials through council contracts at a lower cost for board projects, he said.

''I think everyone - and I include the council - has to be prepared to think differently about how to get projects done.''

Otago Peninsula Community Board chairwoman Christine Garey said before the council spent money on other projects in the city, progress needed to continue on the Portobello and Harington Point road-widening project, particularly further out on the peninsula.

The project had already been delayed too long and more delays would be unacceptable, as it was a matter of safety, Mrs Garey said.

Chalmers Community Board chairman Steve Walker said he had noticed a decrease in road maintenance and the sea wall from Ravensbourne to Aramoana had been neglected.

''We hope it's not a trend that continues but it seems to be a constant battle to get things through,'' he said.Last month, the Dunedin City Council supplied the Waikouaiti Coast Community Board with paint, brushes and rollers so community members could paint a toilet block at the Warrington Reserve.

Board deputy chairman Alasdair Morrison said a lot of the board's work was setting up joint ventures between community members who wanted to do something and ''some department'' that had the materials to do it.

Mr Morrison said the board was happy with the level of service from the council but wanted to make sure those levels were maintained.

Mosgiel Taieri Community Board chairman Bill Feather was concerned the council would continue to defer projects that were on the margins of a cost-benefit analysis.

''We understand the need to look at every dollar spent but it is worrying when key projects like the resurfacing of Riccarton Rd, which has budget of only about $100,000, ... has been continually deferred.''

Mr Feather said he was hopeful money would be made available for road improvements this year.

Kerbs and footpaths had been improved in the Saddle Hill community during the past year, but some areas still needed attention, Saddle Hill Community Board chairman Scott Weatherall said.

Drainage at Brighton Domain had been an issue for years and the board was looking at ways that did not solely rely on funding from the council to fix that, he said.

Strath Taieri Community Board chairman Barry Williams said the council usually served the community well, if not always fast.

It looked like the council had set aside money to improve George King Memorial Dr, which was one project that had been continuously deferred.

It would cost about $100,000, Mr Williams said.

Major Dunedin City Council spending projects during the past three years.

- Tahuna wastewater treatment plant upgrades
- Forsyth Barr Stadium*
- ToituO tago Settlers Museum redevelopment* 
- Dunedin Centre and Town Hall redevelopment
- Regent Theatre upgrade*
- Blueskin Bay Library redevelopment*
- Logan Park redevelopment (Union St pavilion, cricket wickets, development of Sport Centre in the old art gallery building and moving Academy of Sport to stadium site, extension of the University Oval cricket ground)*
- State Highway 88 realignment*
- St Ronans Rd to Marion St and Vauxhall to Burns Point sections of the Portobello-Harington Point roadwidening.*

*Projects marked with an asterisk attracted external funding from sources such as the NZTA, central government and community fundraising.

- by Tim Miller

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