Helipad is all go
"It's absolutely fantastic news."
Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust chief executive Bob Parkinson is delighted the trust can finally build a permanent helipad at Onetangi Sports Park, also known as Rangihoua Park.
The decision was made by the Rangihoua Park hearings panel last week after a submissions process, two days of hearings, site visits, and a day of deliberations.
The panel concluded that a long-term lease for a helipad at the park is the solution for the trust which operates the Westpac rescue helicopter - a third of whose yearly callouts are to Waiheke Island.
Mr Parkinson says the trust has worked for six years to find the perfect site for the rescue helicopter to land in all weather.
He says no other sites matched the central, safe site at Rangihoua Park.
"It's been a long process and to get to this point is just great. It's exciting to hear the news.
"At the end of the day it's a community facility. We'll be the user and operator of it and it will save lives."
The helipad will be restricted for use by the Westpac rescue helicopter, the police Eagle helicopter, and any other emergency helicopter.
An emergency beacon will be installed on the nearby hill and a windsock will be installed on top of the sports pavilion.
Once the lease is drawn up it will be given to the Minister of Conservation Nick Smith for "prior consent" which is needed to make all leases at the park legal.
"We have the funding so the only restriction will be on the process, and we'll be looking to do whatever is required," Mr Parkinson says.
"I'd like to recognise the contribution of the local board and the community for the support they have given us until this point.
"Without that support I'm sure we wouldn't be here." Residents have until this Friday to make a submission on the Auckland Regional Amenities Draft Funding Plan, in which Auckland Council plans to cut funding to the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust by $300,000 for the 2013-14 year.
Download a form at rescuehelicopter.org.nz to make a submission.