$1.5m to repair cemetery

HANNAH SPYKSMA
Last updated 07:41 13/07/2012
Cemetery
RESTORATION: The Symonds St Cemetery is to be given a much needed spruce up. The project may include the closure of the Symonds St motorway on-ramp.

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More than $1.5 million is budgeted to a cemetery restoration project which may include the closure of a motorway on-ramp.

On Tuesday night the Waitemata Local Board signed off the Symonds St Cemetery 10-year funding scheme and approved an initial $128,123 for next year.

The cemetery's development plan was presented to the board and also includes information about the Central Motorway Junction cycleway connections which Auckland Transport is set to start work on this financial year. Initial concepts include using the Symonds St motorway on-ramp as a connecting path between the western and eastern sides of the park.

There are plans to then close the road to traffic.

The park is no stranger to transport changes – in the mid 1960s more than 4100 bodies were moved and re-interred into two memorial sites to make way for the southern motorway.

Waitemata Local Board does not support the on-ramp closure but if plans go ahead it's expected more cyclists and pedestrians would use the cemetery as a thoroughfare.

While the cycleway project is still in the pipeline the restoration project will see more immediate changes to the park next to Karangahape Rd and Symonds St.

The much-needed spruce up includes vegetation clean ups, making pathways safer, and better maintenance of grave sites.

It's a welcomed initiative for the category one historic place after ongoing problems with vandalism of graves, lack of maintenance, security issues, and anti-social behaviour in the area during the past few years.

Historically $40,000 has been given each year towards repairing tombstones.

"An enhanced budget will hopefully move us beyond breaking point," board chairman Shale Chambers says.

All scheduled maintenance will be carried out by the council's Local and Sports Parks team.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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