Loans help tunnel effort

The entrance to the disused Chain Hills tunnel. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
The entrance to the disused Chain Hills tunnel. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
A push to buy land and reopen the Chain Hills tunnel has received a boost from three private benefactors, who have each pledged $50,000 loans for the project.

Dunedin Tunnels Trust chairman Gerard Hyland praised the ``very, very generous'' show of support for the project yesterday, but said more was needed - and soon - if the trust was to realise its goal.

``It's a good start, but we need to get a lot further along to reach the goal.''

His comments came after the trust earlier this month announced a deal to buy the property controlling access to the Chain Hills rail tunnel, if it could raise $550,000 in cash and loans within about 10 weeks.

Success would allow the trust to put in an easement and establish boundaries for a cycle track, before selling the land again to repay its loans.

Mr Hyland said yesterday the sum raised now stood at about $170,000 in loans from six individuals, including the three who offered $50,000 each.

The trust had also received a $10,000 donation from the Dunedin Amenities Society and about $3500 from its Givealittle page, set up to raise money to buy the land.

The three individuals who each loaned $50,000 to the cause were from Dunedin and Otago.

The trust would be approaching larger community funding organisations and corporate entities for financial support soon, which it was hoped would boost the total, Mr Hyland said.

The trust would also apply for a grant from the Otago Regional Council's environment enhancement fund, and could also approach the Dunedin City Council for a loan, if needed, he said.

``If it gets close to time, and we're still short in terms of the funding total, then we'll go to anyone and everyone to see what they can do, because this is our one opportunity to get access to the tunnel.''

Asked if he was confident the trust would reach its goal, Mr Hyland said he was ``always positive'', even though financial support had ``slowed down a bit'' after an initial rush.

It was hoped a Chain Hills tunnel public open day planned for March 11 would lift the campaign's profile again, he said.

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