Residents see red over upgrade

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 13:00 22/11/2012
 Gretchen Rasch
MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ
NO ROOM: Queens Rd resident Gretchen Rasch isn’t happy about the loss of car parks outside her home.

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Residents dodging roadworks in their Nelson street have been issued with infringement notices for parking outside their homes after another resident complained.

Queen's Rd resident Gretchen Rasch told Nelson city councillors this week about her frustrations at the length of time the roading contract was taking and changes to residents' car parking in the area, which led to $1300 worth of parking infringements issued on one day in September.

One resident got a ticket for an expired vehicle registration, after he left his car at home that day to avoid taking it to town in case he got a ticket, Ms Rasch said.

The council recently celebrated the $2 million project to turn Queen's Rd into a shared zone, where pedestrians, cyclists and cars all share the road. Stormwater drains, water mains and sewerage have all been upgraded at the same time and new fibre optic cabling has been laid, but the project which was meant to have been wrapped up in July is not yet finished.

Tempers have flared during the roadworks which have been delayed by several factors including bad weather, but some residents have also been upset at changes to on-street car parking outside their homes.

Ms Rasch said a resident complained to the council about cars parked on the street, and parking wardens arrived and began issuing tickets.

She told councillors in the public forum of a council meeting this week she did not have a garage or off-street parking at the house she had owned for 13 years. She had to park on the street and despite the upgrade, she believed she was now worse off.

She said in her group of eight residents five had off-street parking and the remainder relied on street parking.

"It's quite random and I have no more rights to a car park than anyone else," Ms Rasch said.

She said outside the meeting that despite the upgrade residents were not sure what was allowed and what was not allowed when it came to parking their cars.

"As this project was being completed I got the message from the council I should be grateful, but it's a bit like amputating my leg and giving me a facelift and telling me that's OK when I'd like the leg back, actually."

Ms Rasch blamed the problems on the "appalling communication" between the residents, the contractor and the council. She said it was good in the beginning, but deteriorated.

Council executive manager of network services Alec Louverdis apologised to Ms Rasch and residents who were in the public forum for Tuesday's meeting. He said the intention of any construction project was to bring the community along with it.

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He said the contractor, Fulton Hogan, had been asked to complete it as a "matter of urgency".

Mr Louverdis said he was aware of the disruption caused and the parking enforcement occurred after a complaint to the council.

"We have to act on any complaint," he said.

He added that Fulton Hogan had tried hard to get the public consultation right, but the nature of the job on a hilly, narrow street combined with wet weather had created added challenges.

"We will be putting the contract under the microscope. We were on budget, but not on time," Mr Louverdis said.

He added that others in the street were happy with the result.

Council capital projects manager Phil Hamblin said people were able to park in the shared zone, and that building a two-lane road with car parking would have added another $5 million to the job. Mr Louverdis said it was not possible to issue residents with parking permits.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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