Dirt row weighs heavy on group

A year-long dispute threatening the existence of a 90-year-old community group is yet to be resolved.

The Taieri Mouth Amenities Society, active since 1924, faces a bill of more than $2000 for dirt it spread on Knarston Park without authority in late 2012.

It used about 50cu m of soil to fill holes in the park, but discovered afterwards the dirt belonged to Clutha District Council contractor SouthRoads.

The company had permission from the council to store the dirt at the park for use elsewhere.

The council has asked on behalf of the company for payment or replacement dirt.

But the not-for-profit society has no money, and also disputes the soil used was topsoil, for which it was charged.

''It was fill basically. There was very little soil in it,'' society president Jeannine Basquin said.

''We understood it was to be used to upgrade Knarston Park. There was no malicious intent. It was very much a lack of communication from all sides.''

The society recently published a newsletter asking for donations of soil to resolve the issue. The newsletter said if the council insisted on payment for the soil, the society committee would stand down and the group would go into remission.

''This society has been active since 1924 and it would be a sad occurrence for this to happen,'' it said.

Last week, Mrs Basquin said she did not think the outcome would be so drastic, although a resolution had yet to be reached.

A donation of fill had to be declined because ''it was full of rubbish'' and unlikely to be accepted by SouthRoads, she said.

''It's a very unfortunate situation. Everything was done to make the park better for the community.''

Mrs Basquin said committee members had unanimously voted to take no further action in respect of the dispute, but donations of soil would still be welcomed.

Council district assets manager Jules Witt said he hoped a farmer would offer to replace the soil for the society.

He said the council, on behalf of the company, would continue to seek a resolution in the matter.



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