Council backs down from sale of parks
Palmerston North's parks and reserves are all safe, after city councillors backed down on proposals to sell 12 of them.
The property review drew 340 submissions opposing the sales, and last night the finance and performance committee agreed to keep all the reserves.
Senior parks and property planner Aaron Phillips recommended four parks and reserves be sold, but councillors voted to keep them as well.
They included part of the Ruapehu Drive Reserve, part of the Hardie St Park on the corner of Fitzherbert Ave, a section at the entrance to Waterloo Park, and the Works Pit in Cambridge Ave in Ashhurst.
The committee has, however, recommended further community engagement in Ashhurst about the future of the Works Pit and the Deer Park, which could result in partial sales to pay for future development of reserves.
The only properties that councillors were prepared to part with were the shops at 52-54 George St, the Andrew Young St car park, and grazing land at Bowen St in Linton. The three properties could raise a total of $590,000 to be used for other purposes including repayment of debt.
The reserves that will be retained, subject to full council approval at the end of the month, are Springdale, Panako, Pioneer, Willowbank, Amberley Ave, and, in Ashhurst, the Salisbury St and Durham St Reserves.
Earlier in the meeting, retired city councillor Vern Chettleburgh said if the council knew more about its reserves, it would have known how strongly people valued them. "It's sound policy to review your assets, but parks and reserves need to be assessed against different criteria to old buildings."
Cr Chris Teo-Sherrell said the most important learning from the process was that the council needed to engage with the community earlier in the process, rather than go straight out to formal consultation.
"Many people believe when we get to that stage it is a foregone conclusion. That's not the case."
Last night's debate took more than three hours as many of the properties were considered one at a time.
The narrowest vote, 9-4, was on the Ruapehu Drive Reserve.
Mayor Jono Naylor said the area had plenty of reserves and the prospect of better walkways linking to developments at Te Motu o Poutoa (Anzac Park).
"There are so many people who want us to do things without raising rates or debt, and here we have an opportunity to pull off the impossible. This is just one section that we can afford to sell."
Cr Teo-Sherrell and Cr Lew Findlay wanted to keep the George St shops as they were earning a good return.
But the majority believed holding commercial property was risky, and was not part of the core purpose of local government.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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