Residents reject road upgrade

TARYN UTIGER
Last updated 05:00 28/05/2014

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A Neighbours at War battle is brewing right outside of Witt's front door.

The New Plymouth District Council is proposing a $260,000 upgrade for Bell St, but some residents have slammed the idea, saying it only benefits Witt.

Bell St resident Gordon Graves says the upgrade is not wanted by all of the residents, but council is not listening to their concerns.

He said over the years the polytech had continued to encroach onto the street and residents were fed up with the "witless ones".

The council's proposed upgrade would only serve the purpose of creating a grand entranceway for the polytech, he said.

Four residents of Bell St were at council's monitoring committee meeting last night to share their concerns about the proposed upgrade.

"It's not for our benefit, surely. We never asked for it.

"What we want is a nice quiet road," Graves told the councillors.

"The street has been gradually overshadowed by the organisation at the end of it.

"And now they want to use our residential road for their benefit."

The street, which has 13 residential properties on it, has 33 car parks which were continually occupied by Witt staff and students, he said.

When the street car parks were taken, Witt staff and students would then park on the grass berms outside of the residential properties, Graves said.

The new street design concept proposes a total of 24 carparks, including eight two-hour time restricted parks and 16 non-restricted on street parks.

Although no grass berm parking would be allowed, Graves said Witt staff and students would still continue to use all of the parking on the street and residents would be no better off.

Last night Jim Willson, council's general manager of infrastructure, said if the plan went ahead, residents could in fact be ticketed if they parked outside of their own house for longer than 120 minutes.

Council has said the $260,000 project would result in a number of additional trees, more plantings, raised platforms and a street narrowing design to slow the traffic movement and discourage all day parking.

A report to council said the objective of the Bell St project was to improve accessibility for all, design a low speed environment and co-ordinate with Witt's "master plan".

The funding for the project would come from three sources, with $120,000 from NZ Transport Agency, $80,000 from the Let's Go budget and the remaining $60,000 from council's roading budget.

Councillor and former Witt chief executive Richard Handley spoke out in support of the project last night and said if the funding from NZ Transport and Let's Go was not used for the Bell St upgrade, the council would lose the money altogether.

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However, fellow councillor John McLeod suggested Handley had a conflict of interest in the matter and said he was not happy with the proposal.

"It's going to take $60,000 out of our roading budget," he said.

"There are other roads that need repairs and we don't have enough money to deal with them.

"What's so special about this place?"

- Taranaki Daily News

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