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Project a 'long time coming'

ROSE CAWLEY
Last updated 08:21 29/10/2014
revamped area

WHAT'S COMING: An artist’s impression of what the revamped area will look like.

Tom Mansell
Rose Cawley
ON-SITE: Stormwater project manger Tom Mansell says big things are coming to Underwood and Walmsley reserves.

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A stormwater project in the pipeline for Mt Roskill will cost an estimated $25 million.

Early consultation has just started on a much needed do-over for Walmsley and Underwood parks.

The plan for the 1.3km stretch between Richardson Road and Sandringham Road includes a naturalised water channel, reduced flood plain and a revamp of the parkland.

Project manager Tom Mansell says a major catalyst for the project is the flood-prone houses which border the reserve land.

A one-in-100-year flooding event could affect 90 to 100 houses in the area.

"Through the 60s and 70s there was some significant flooding."

Sixty per cent of the surrounding houses are owned by Housing New Zealand.

The work will reduce the size of the flood plain which has strict building restrictions, he said.

"What this will do for the neighbouring houses in the flood plain is it potentially allows them to have more land to do things with," he said. "It makes it more suitable for future development."

Mansell said Auckland Council wants the project to be a benchmark for how it goes about community consultation on similar projects.

"After all, this is their environment, their community and their reserves that we are working in so we want it to work for them."

Mansell aims to employ people within the community and get nearby schools involved.

The detailed design is proposed to be finished by the end of next year and at the earliest construction will start in the summer of 2016. It will take around two years to complete.

Three new road bridges at Sandringham, Beagle and Richardson roads will be put in as well as two, possibly three pedestrian bridges.

"There will be disruption to traffic, sections of the parks will be closed at different times over that potential two-year period and there will be noise with machinery and truck movement."

But he says the end product will be well worth it.

A long-time resident of O'Donnell Ave, who asked not to be named, remembers the Oakley Creek flooding right up to the steps of her mother's house in the 1960s.

"We'd watch the boy next door get his boat out and putter around in that."

She said it isn't that bad now but it still comes into the backyard.

"And it stinks. It is just disgusting. You live here long enough though and you start to get used to it."

Taina Makasini said she would like the water to stop coming into her yard but the pricetag seems hefty.

"That is a lot of money. You could do a lot with that . . . they could do heaps for our kids with that money."

Puketapapa Local Board deputy chair Harry Doig said the project has been "a long time coming" and will be a great step forward for the area.

"It is the biggest thing to hit Puketapapa for decades," he said. "Just reducing flooding has to be a huge advantage for the community."

He said it was about time the upper reaches of Oakley Creek were restored from a channel to an urban stream that people value.

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- Central Leader

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