Council votes to sell cabins

Cabins in Taylor Park, Milton, will be sold. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
Cabins in Taylor Park, Milton, will be sold. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
Controversal camp cabins at Milton’s Taylor Park will be put on the market, following a split council decision requiring the mayor to use his first ever casting vote.

The Clutha District Council met in Balclutha last week to determine the future of an initial four cabins installed on the park’s green space, as part of an upgrade to the Taylor Park Motor Camp.

Councillors had earlier voted to remove the cabins from the park, after public consultation indicated overwhelming dissatisfaction with their location.

Options on the table on Thursday included selling, repurposing or storing the cabins.

Following lengthy debate, it was moved to sell the cabins at market-determined value, giving other Clutha campgrounds first refusal.

The ensuing vote was split 7-7, leaving Clutha District Mayor Bryan Cadogan the option of using his casting vote for the first time in 14 years at the helm.

Mr Cadogan voted in favour of the motion, citing fulfilling the council’s "social responsibilities" as a key reason.

A council report provided details of costs to date.

Each cabin cost about $57,000 to build and fit out, and a further $24,100 for connection to services.

There would be further, unspecified costs to restore the park’s green space to its original condition.

Councillors expressed hope selling the cabins would recoup some of those costs, although council chief executive Steve Hill said there would be no cost to ratepayers for their removal.

"There was a substantial cost to set up the platform and underground services, which will need to be recovered from the campground account. This will not be a cost to the ratepayer as it’s funded by past sales of campgrounds."

Cr Bruce Vollweiler raised the possibility of repurposing the cabins as community housing units.

The council is reviewing its provision of community housing as part of current long-term plan consultation.

Council staff indicated space existed for additional units at existing sites. However, council consultant and cabin report writer Mike Goldsmith said the cabins would require adaptation to be suitable for that purpose.

Cr Gaynor Finch expressed concern Milton could "miss out" if the cabins were sold or repurposed.

"I want Milton to have the option of getting the cabins in future. Milton is not anti the cabins, just their placement and the process by which they were placed.

"We have people sleeping in cars in Milton. I want to find a space where we can reuse the cabins or take on new cabins in the very near future. There would be a lot of people who would be very upset of they were sold and moved out of the district altogether."

Following the vote, Mr Hill said council staff would prepare a further report on options for the additional six cabins that had been commissioned from Otago Corrections Facility, four of which were now nearing completion.