Picnic a reminder of water park plan

GLENN CONWAY
Last updated 08:10 02/01/2014
Avon River picnic
John Kirk-Anderson

FOND MEMORIES: Ashley Campbell, second right, yesterday organised a "Reclaim the Red Zone" picnic on the banks of the Avon River to raise awareness of plans to create a water park on the land which was red-zoned after the February 2011 earthquake.

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The organiser of a small picnic on the banks of the Avon River yesterday hopes 2014 will be the year a public park is developed in the red-zoned land.

A handful of supporters, including former residents of neighbourhoods around the Avon River, gathered on its banks on River Rd for a low-key picnic aimed at keeping the push for a river park in the public's minds.

They sipped on tea, ate sandwiches and biscuits and remembered the time when the now wasteland was a thriving community.

Ashley Campbell, who helped establish the Avon-Otakaro Network (AvON) group and organised yesterday's lunchtime picnic, said it was time for people to stop thinking about the red- zoned area as wasteland.

"Today, we are just chilling here, enjoying the setting but I really hope that plans for the park really move forward this year," she said.

The area was once a bustling community with established houses, gardens and a sense of neighbourhood, but the February 2011 earthquake destroyed many homes along the river and much of the area is now red zoned.

As those at the picnic gathered to eat, take tea and reminisce, the river was the only real reminder of what once was there.

Empty sections, where houses once were, long grass on the riverbank, un-maintained walkways and very little traffic were now the only features of the area.

But Campbell hoped she could come back at the start of 2015 to see "real progress" on the river park concept.

She wanted to see restored wetlands, forests and natural river habitats, all bringing native wildlife back into the city.

Her mother, Helen Campbell, who was at the picnic, lived in Orari St in Bexley for 48 years until the earthquakes forced her family out.

Although she has settled into her new home at the Wigram Skies development, she still misses the area and hopes the river park idea will take a step closer to reality this year.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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