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Relief as most reserves set to keep their status

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 09:00 14/09/2013

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Most of Palmerston North's neighbourhood reserves look set to be retained.

Community opposition has forced a city council backdown on plans to revoke reserve status and sell eight blocks of land.

It had earlier proposed selling 15 properties assessed as having little or no value to the community.

The recommendation to keep the reserves goes to the council's finance and performance committee on Monday.

One of the reserves on the proposed safe list includes Willowbank Park in Hind Place, just off Waterloo Cres, which received the largest outpouring of public support through submissions.

Neighbour Graeme Meyer said the recommendation to keep it was a huge relief.

"But what a battle it has been," he said.

Mr Meyer said it was incredible the proposal had ever seen the light of day, and it was disturbing that councillors and council staff had not understood the reserve was created as part of a council-designed subdivision. ‘The other reserves recommended as keepers are Panako, Springdale, Pioneer, Amberley Ave, and Salisbury St and Durham St reserves in Ashhurst, as well as the Ashhurst Deer Park.

Part of another three city reserves, however, are still recommended for disposal.

They are part of the Hardie St Park on the corner of Fitzherbert Ave, the Ruapehu Drive Reserve (except for a walkway strip), and a lot at the entrance of Waterloo Park, which would carry restrictions on height, fencing, planting and other structures.

Mr Meyer said Waterloo Cres residents would have preferred to save that section too, but would accept the compromise.

Councillors will be asked to press ahead with selling the Andrew Young St carpark, the George St shops and grazing land at Bowen St in Linton.

Senior parks and planning officer Aaron Phillips said the property sales had potential to raise $650,000 for investment in new reserve projects, and $590,000 for general purposes, including paying off debt.

The property review earlier identified $2.5 million of property that could be sold.

Mr Phillips said the consultation process, which drew 340 submissions, showed how much the community valued some reserves in ways the council had not appreciated. "The property review has been a challenging process, that has involved considerable learning on council's part, but one that has delivered a good understanding of parcels of land thought to be delivering little value."

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- Manawatu Standard

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