Year-round weekend street closure recommended

More than 70 people gather in Harbour St in April for the Forrester Laneway Long Lunch. Photo: Hamish MacLean
More than 70 people gather in Harbour St in April for the Forrester Laneway Long Lunch. Photo: Hamish MacLean
A vast majority of Harbour St businesses are in favour of pedestrian-only access to the Oamaru historic street, a Waitaki District Council survey shows.

And nearly 60% of respondents to the council survey indicated they preferred a seven-day-a-week closure of the street to cars.

Nevertheless, council roading manager Michael Voss has recommended a year-round 10am-4pm closure from Friday to Sunday, including on public holidays, in a report to be tabled at this week's assets committee meeting, because one of the 40-plus survey respondents said legal action would be taken to overturn a decision to close the street.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said the report to councillors detailed the council's position on its ability to close the road under the Local Government Act 1974 because ''there has been challenges put forward that the council doesn't have the ability'' to close the street to cars.

''So we want to be very clear that council actually does have the ability to do this, and to make sure that councillors have that information when they're making their decision, and we'll see where they get to.''

The assets committee recommendation tomorrow would be taken to the October 25 council meeting for a final decision and there was the opportunity for councillors to ''workshop'' a resolution to the issue.

''It's been years and years of discussions and half attempts, and things, over the years.

''It's a chance to make sure that if it is going to happen, that we get it as right as possible.''

Mr Voss said yesterday the council had legal advice to the effect the street could be closed. He would not name the business owner who had threatened legal action.

Of the 33 respondents to the council survey, 26 were in favour of a closure.

While the council knew there was ''a lot of public opinion out there'', the survey targeted only businesses in the area, Mr Kircher said.

''We want to keep working with those that have the greatest vested interest in the area.

''Overall, it's a decision that we've still got to make.''

Last year, when a proposal to close Harbour St to traffic during summer business hours came to the council, Oasis Oamaru owner Greg Waite circulated a petition among Harbour St business owners opposing restricting vehicles in the street and gained a dozen signatures.

A trial weekend closure of Harbour St, between 10am and 4pm, from February 18 to May 1 was conducted instead.

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