DCC backs restoring Aramoana wharf

The Dunedin City Council has indicated its support for a community project to restore the Aramoana wharf.

It has also agreed to pay for an archaeological assessment of the wharf so the project can move on to the next stage, and a heritage impact assessment, if necessary, after that.

The archaeological assessment will determine exactly when the wharf was built and if it was before 1900, as some anecdotal evidence suggests, a heritage impact assessment would be required.

The cost would be several thousand dollars, but, should the wharf's restoration continue following the assessments, would be less than the likely cost of removing the wharf.

The Aramoana League presented new plans to restore the wharf using as much material from the dilapidated structure as possible, to the community and development committee yesterday.

The league would raise the money to restore the wharf, which was a planned in a different style to one built recently at Portobello.

The new Aramoana wharf was expected to cost $100,000, about a quarter of the cost of the Portobello wharf.

The council would take ownership of the wharf once it was built and be responsible for its ongoing maintenance.

The committee was not considering a staff recommendation to demolish the wharf, as reported in the ODT yesterday.

It considered that recommendation in 2012, but left the matter on the table while the options were investigated further.

The 2012 staff report was attached to a report considered by councillors yesterday that recommended the council continue to work with the league to complete its proposal.

After a series of questions about how the council came to be responsible for the wharf, councillors generally indicated they thought the project was worthy of council support.

The only dissenter was Cr Lee Vandervis, but he was later outvoted 13-1 after his colleagues chose instead to take the view the league's efforts over the past 14 years to save the wharf were commendable and its restoration plans credible.

They largely agreed there was potential for recreational and eco-tourism benefits from the wharf's restoration, that the project was a win for the wider community and it was good to support the efforts of Dunedin's smaller communities.

There were reservations about heritage complications or insufficient consideration of the project's ecological impact, although those concerns were tempered by agreement the matter would come back to the committee after a plan and costings were finalised.

Mayor Dave Cull said it was an opportunity for the council to co-operate on a project that would cost ratepayers very little, but enhance a community asset.

''Why pull it down when a group is offering to take responsibility for restoring and all it will cost us is a couple of studies?''

John Davis, from the Aramoana League, said it was ''a weight off the shoulders'' to have the council's support and the group looked forward to being able to start raising money for the project. The full council will consider the committee's recommendation on November 4.

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