Ocean drive access in spotlight again

Further options are to be investigated for John Wilson Ocean Dr. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
Further options are to be investigated for John Wilson Ocean Dr. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
The debate over access to Dunedin's John Wilson Ocean Dr may be rekindled after city councillors resolved to look again at a barrier arm, after deciding last year it would be too expensive.

John Wilson Ocean Dr has been closed to vehicular traffic since 2006. After much debate on reopening it, including a two-day hearing on the issue, the council voted last year to open it to vehicles from 11am till 2pm on weekdays, subject to the installation of speed humps, the resealing of the road and a permanent 30kmh speed limit.

Work was not expected to start until the start of the 2012-13 financial year.

Councillors setting the city's 2012-13 budget yesterday referred to submissions that offered various opinions on access and uses for the closed-off section of the road.

They included a submission from Ski Dogs NZ, which offered to pay for a strip of the road to be sealed for use in nordic-style country ski training, and one from Gerrard Liddell, representing the group John Wilson Promenaders, which proposed access by a swipe-card-operated latch on a gate across the road, which they believed could happen at a cost of $15,000.

Cr Kate Wilson moved that staff report to council on the implications of funding up to $15,000 to provide such limited access, using funding that would be removed from the speed hump budget, and that council accept Ski Dogs NZ's offer of $10,000 towards the skiing strip, with conditions to be determined.

The topic raised ire around the council table, with Cr Lee Vandervis immediately indicating his opposition to the idea.

"We've been through the barrier arm discussion many more times than I wanted to, and it's been shown to be dud."

Cr Syd Brown said the council had already been through an extensive and exhaustive public process of consultation and the only reason the issue was coming up again was that the physical work agreed at the end of that process had not been done.

Once it was known that councillors were possibly changing their minds again, it would put them in a very poor light, he said.

"We've made a decision in public consultation.

"Let's stick to it."

Cr Dave Cull said he did not think the motion radically changed the intent of the previous decision, and it would be worth hearing what council staff had to say about it.

Cr Andrew Noone said he hoped that if access could not be gained for $15,000, it would not be. However, if it could be, it would be cheaper than what was already planned.

Council staff had noted that they had previously worked out the price of simply getting electricity to the barrier, and that was $60,000, which was not an option for the council. General manager operations Tony Avery said his opinion was that that advice was likely to remain the same.

The motion to investigate the options was passed by five votes to four.

- debbie.porteous@odt.co.nz


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