Debate over safety park site

Council divided over new park's location

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 07:47 02/09/2014
park
DAVID UNWIN / FAIRFAX NZ

The PNCC have decided they need more information and time to accept the proposed site of the junior bike park at the esplanade in Palmerston North.

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The location for a junior road safety park in Palmerston North is undecided, with the city council divided between options of Victoria Esplanade or the Railway Land.

The miniature road network complete with intersections, traffic lights and a roundabout, would enable under-10s to practise road skills in a safe setting.

The community group of parents promoting the idea favours the Esplanade, on a 2800 square metre property where the earthquake-damaged caretakers' house is earmarked for demolition.

It was also the frontrunner from a group of six locations assessed by council staff.

But half of the councillors were concerned about the council putting ever more attractions into the Esplanade to the detriment of residents who would have to travel long distances across the city to enjoy it.

They have asked for further evaluation of the Esplanade and central Railway Land sites, and a better assessment of costs.

Leisure assets planner Jeff Baker said a layout had been designed that would cost about $217,000. The council's contribution would be providing the land and paying an estimated $90,000 for clearing the site.

A similar project in Napier had cost about $450,000, and Baker said there would be extra costs for landscaping in Palmerston North.

Councillors keen to retain the enthusiasm of the bike park group who had offered to lead fundraising were irate about delaying a decision on the site at yesterday's planning and policy committee meeting.

Cr Duncan McCann said the council risked destroying the project by "dithering", and Cr Billy Meehan said it was "absolutely pathetic".

Deputy mayor Jim Jefferies said the Esplanade had the right feel for him, and he was frustrated councillors wanted further evaluations.

But Cr Susan Baty defended the delay as financial prudence.

Group organisers Allanah Radich and Matt Field said they preferred the Esplanade site.

They wanted the park near the children's playground, and did not think the older youth using the skate park at the Railway Land were ideal neighbours for little children.

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- Manawatu Standard

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