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Thursday
Jun252015

Hahei R & R Speaks Out On Walkway!

The Hahei Residents & Ratepayers Association has at last formulated its policy in regard to Leach's Great Walk. Its Chair - Bill Stead, has issued this Press Release this morning:

"Hahei’s community has drawn a line in the sand to define what they want before the Coromandel Great Walk is joined up through their area.

Their list includes a true coastal walk, no partly completed sections, the initial walk development starting from Whitianga, solutions for traffic management and parking, and possibly even making Hahei a walking-only village during the busy holiday season

A vision of Thames Coromandel District Council Mayor Glenn Leach, the great walk is planned to link the whole Coromandel district from east and west coasts and across the spine of the peninsula.

But the first stage – called the Cathedral Coast Walk – is planned through Department of Conservation owned land, council reserve land and Stella Evered Memorial Park.  It is planned to be complete by the end of the year.

The second part of the work is to be a track built from the Purangi  Estuary up to Lees Road – a dead end road a couple of kilometers from Hahei village.

The plan is then for the focus to move to construction of a track from Lees Road through to the Blowhole at Te Pupuha Recreation Reserve in Hahei.

But the Hahei community wants problems associated with the annual tourist influx fixed before it will support these legs of the walk.

Already reeling in summer under the pressure of tourist numbers visiting Cathedral Cove, Hot Water Beach, and the surrounding area, the community wants existing issues fixed before more tourists are attracted.

Through an action group combining the ratepayers and a Walk Stakeholders Group the community has identified its position and come up with solutions.

Chairman Bill Stead says that in a nutshell the overriding situation is to “fix Hahei’s current traffic congestion first, and then build a walk or other tourist attractions.”

Tourist traffic and parking congestion has created annual summer problems for Hahei and surrounding areas for years.  Park and ride solutions have eased some pressure but with visitor numbers increasing by 10 per cent a year and the tourist season running longer, the problem is magnifying.

In an attempt to mitigate this pressure TCDC had undertaken to develop a permanent pay and display carpark on the fringes of the village, and negotiate with a Lees Road landowner to create a second permanent carpark and access track to Cathedral Cove.

In the interim, a traffic management expert commissioned by TCDC will help develop solutions for the wider area from Hot Water Beach to Ferry Landing. This report is expected in the next two months.

“We are prepared to continue with the Park and Ride operation while a long term solution is developed,” says Mr Stead.

“We support a proposal to make the Grange Road carpark at the beginning of the Cathedral Cove track into a pay and display area” adds Mr Stead,”and there should be no overnight parking here”.

The stakeholder group strongly believes that the rights and lifestyle of property owners in the area should be recognised. 

“Many people choose to live on the Coromandel to enjoy its unique beauty and tranquility...and we must ensure that all ratepayers’ rights are preserved.

Mr Stead says ratepayers must not be burdened with unnecessary costs. 

“Visitors should pay to enjoy our unique assets” he adds.

The community group opposes council’s plans for part of the great walk to run alongside Lees Road from Purangi Estuary to the planned alternative track to Cathedral Cove.

“It would simply be a foot path and could never be considered part of a Great Walk.

“Lees Road is incapable of handling increased traffic flows as is, and a loop walk back from Cathedral Cove would cause parking congestion along the road.”

“With no way of crossing the Purangi Estuary cars would drive up and down Lees Road – so a complete upgrade would be essential,” Mr Stead says.

He adds that they support the concept of a world class walk around the coast, rather than inland, and following positive discussions with key coastal land owners on Lees Road, “we intend to explore this option in more detail”.

A track from Pa Road in Hahei south to the blowhole is not supported by the group either, 

because coastal access from there through to Hot Water Beach has not been attained by TCDC.

“We cannot support a short return walk only” adds Mr Stead.

“We continue to support the Mayor’s original concept of the walk – a world class Coastal Milford track from Whitianga south to Tairua. 

“But we oppose small, underfunded segments with not firm long term plan to complete the Walk,” says Mr Stead.

Bill Stead's Release is quite a lot to take in, but the general tenor is clear - they are not happy with the current direction being taken by Council, and the consultative group that was set up to speak on behalf of all the interest groups involved, including tangata whenua - namely Ngati Hei certainly does not appear to reflect the view of the R & R.

The concerns are manifest, and although 'bull-dozing' has brought the project to its present position, it is clear that the resident concerns have now come to the fore. One may question the length of time it has taken for the R & R to get its act together but there are a number of difficulties in getting the concensus in a township with so many absent residents.

Council has recently made decisions to proceed based on having secured $1m of a $1.8m Lottery Board application. Despite the euphoria expressed by Leach in regard to this grant, it still leaves their budget $800k short, and no indication has been given as to how they intend to cover this shortfall.

in the meantime, it is not clear just how the many staff involved with this development are to be deployed. Clearly, and in the light of the above Press Release, there is considerable risk associated with progressing the plans that were so confidently promulgated at the April meeting of the Economic Development Committee.

 

 

 

 

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Reader Comments (1)

Bravo R&R of Hahei. Not an easy task with so many absentee owners but heartening to see at last a practical approach to something that could be great if done with thought and planning. Can I suggest you put your hands up to stand in the next round!

June 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDragonfly

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