Mowing policy considered

Complaints about the untidy state of two reserves in Oamaru and another in Kurow - a result of maintenance cuts - may not persuade the Waitaki District Council to change its policy.

Over the past few weeks, the council has received complaints about the lack of mowing at the railway reserve in Kurow and East Awamoa Park and West Awamoa Park in Oamaru.

All have long grass, which local residents say makes them look untidy and unattractive to visitors.

News media have also published photographs and reported on the matter.

The council, at its meeting tomorrow, will look at the issue and consider a report from community services manager Thunes Cloete that recommends it not change the present policy.

The council, in its 2009-10 annual plan, decided to reduce the "level of service" in maintaining its parks, saving $30,000, because of pressure from the community over rates rises.

It surveyed its parks and recreation spaces, examining use and then deciding on how often they needed to be mowed.

Some parks were also identified to trial a parkland appearance of trees with long grass, rather than having a frequently mowed area.

Mr Cloete said making a U-turn on that decision might set "an unwise precedent" early in the term of the newly elected council.

Because the change had been incorporated into existing budgets, there was no obvious source of funds to increase mowing.

Savings from the change had helped to keep the rates increase down, after both councillors and staff had received a clear message from the community about rates rises.

He also pointed out the changes had been subject to public consultation and hearings, and should not be reconsidered other than as part of next year's annual plan.

Work had already started on that annual plan, with preliminary figures indicating a 9% increase in rates.

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