Trail fund change agreed

The Vincent Community Board has agreed to reclassify funding it had already approved for the Roxburgh Gorge Cycle Trail Trust so the money can be used for purposes other than those originally intended.

The board had given $15,000 to the trust to be used to fund negotiations with landowners for access for the trail.

However, because a grant from the Central Lakes Trust had covered the negotiations so far, the trust had only spent $2428 of the board's $15,000, the community board was told on Monday.

The cycle trail trust applied to change the use of the funds so it could be used for consent costs and general expenses such as postage and advertising, while still being available for land easements if needed.

The board's decision to allow its funding to be used in other ways was not without some discussion at the board meeting.

While no board member objected to the change, several asked board member and cycle trail trust member Barrie Wills for reassurance about the 34km trail between Alexandra and the Roxburgh dam in light of issues with landowners bordering the trail.

Landowners Bruce and Leigh Johnston had issues with construction on the marginal strip along their property undermining their land. On January 11 they set up a tent across the path of the trail as a protest and to stop construction. The same day a small landslip occurred involving some of their property that had been destabilised due to construction.

Their protest, which only lasted a day, saw construction in that section halted while they negotiated with the trail trust.

The Johnstons were also concerned about mess created by the construction process.

Board member Graeme Bell said the Johnstons' concerns "may have been relevant".

"I walked down to take a look ... Yes, there were logs dumped over the side and it was quite messy, but the job's not finished and it will be tidied up."

Board member Tim Cadogan said he was "nervous".

"[There's] one track from Alexandra, one track from Roxburgh and a big gap in the middle."

Mr Wills said negotiations were continuing with the Johnstons over construction on the marginal strip but were favourable.

As for the properties in the middle section, he said two were in tenure review and although the other would not be in review for some years, the trust might need funds to negotiate easements later on. That was why the allocated money could still be used for that purpose.

"We're doing our best and bending over backwards to try and accommodate the needs of some of the landowners, but it takes time," Mr Wills said.

The $15,000 was allocated for the trail trust three years ago and came with a condition the trust adhere to reporting requirements under the Central Otago Districts Council's grants policy and provide receipts.

Council parks and recreation manager Mathew Begg said as the Roxburgh Community Board also provided funding, they would also be asked to consider the change.



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