Should there be a lookout/kiosk on top of the Wither Hills?
Maike van der Heide continues the series looking back over stories of interest from the Marlborough Express files. This instalment is from September 3, 1966.
Take a drive to the top of the Wither Hills. Stop the car and get out to enjoy the view, then drive a bit further and stop again for a cup of tea at a kiosk before heading back down to the flat. Don't break a sweat.
This scenario, rather than the one these days of sneaker-clad walkers and runners who dot the hills each day, was rather close to being a reality.
As reported in the September 3 edition of the Express in 1966, the "Wither Hills project" had been pushed many times in the past by different organisations who wanted to make it much easier to get to Blenheim's only viewpoint, and attracted various ideas.
In 1966 the hills were accessible on foot but only with permission from the manager of the Soil Conservation and River Control Council's research farm, "which includes the best lookout point".
These included car parking beyond the farm manager's house at the top of Redwood St, to "a scenic drive around or near the ridge which could be interrupted by a tea kiosk placed at a strategic point, similar to the Summit Road on the hills overlooking Christchurch".
Another option was a driveway from the Taylor Dam around the top of the hills - "on the Blenheim side of course" - and continuing on either to Riverlands or around the back of Seventeen Valley to rejoin State Highway 1.
The idea of building roads in the hills was not new.
About 50 years earlier, the article explains, the council of the day went so far as to propose a loan to buy 397 acres of Wither Hills land from the Government, plus fencing, roading and a plantation.
The idea clearly did not interest ratepayers, as only one-third of eligible voters bothered to do so and defeated the proposal by 14 votes.
During a second vote a few months later the proposal was defeated again, but only by seven votes.
In other 1966 news, golden parking meters were suggested for Blenheim streets by G H Hall, of Picton. His idea was inspired by a visit to Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast of Australia, which apparently sported gold-painted parking meters.
The idea received support from the Marlborough Public Relations Association and was to have been directed to the Blenheim Borough Council.
But the parking meters don't appear to have been installed, suggesting Mr Hall's idea was defeated at the council table.
- © Fairfax NZ News