Council heritage advisers will be involved in all future talks about an $8.8 million cycleway project that cuts through Auckland's first cemetery to ensure families of those buried there aren't upset further.
The Grafton Gully cycleway project will complete a missing link between the current end of the northwestern cycleway and the city centre. Work is scheduled to begin this year and be completed by mid to late 2014.
The path will join the northwestern cycleway at the north end of Ian McKinnon Dr, before crossing the Upper Queen St bridge, running along the southern and eastern edge of Symonds St Cemetery and then down through Grafton Gully.
It will end at Beach Rd and link with a planned cycle facility being developed by Auckland Transport.
Councillor Sandra Coney told the Auckland Council Transport Committee today that, while she supported the project, the council needed to have their own historical team involved in discussions, particularly in light of past occurrences.
In the mid 1960s more than 4100 bodies were moved from Symonds St Cemetery and re-interred into two memorial sites to make way for the Southern Motorway.
Coney said relatives of the deceased were still upset the motorway went ahead.
"During that time bodies were exhumed and then plopped in the ground on the southern-edge of the western side. They were people's relatives and people go to visit [the remains]. People are still really upset the motorway went through there."
Coney said it was important the historical nature of the cemetery was respected. She said the best way to do that was to have a council team of historical experts available at future discussions.
She requested that an amendment be added to the agenda requiring the heritage department be included in future discussions about the project.
The motion was unanimously supported.
"That cemetery is an area of outstanding historical significance to New Zealand," Coney said.
"While it's easy for people to make decisions we have to be incredibly careful what we do so that the significant historical form of that cemetery is not compromised."
Symonds St Cemetery was closed for burials in 1886, other than to existing family plots, and in 1909 the then Auckland City Council took over its management.
Many of Auckland's early colonists are buried there including William Hobson.
Auckland Transport will remove car parks along the western side of the Upper Queen St Bridge to make room for the three metre wide cycleway, and the intersection at the end of the bridge will be made more pedestrian and cycle friendly.
A five metre wide underpass is planned for Wellesley St East as well as fencing between the motorway and cycleway.
Auckland Transport also plans to redevelop areas of the city that are underused, and breathe new life into them with the cycleway.
Projects include reclaiming the old Nelson St off-ramp to use as for pedestrians and cyclists or green space at a cost of $250,000 over the next three years.
New signs and warnings for pedestrians and cyclists that they have entered the city centre will also be erected at a yet to be determined cost.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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