Council proposes token $1 offer for land

LIBBY WILSON
Last updated 05:00 16/05/2014
	 Waikato river walkway
Peter Drury/FAIRFAX NZ

Hamilton's riverside walk-and-cycleway has been severed by slips for almost two years where it traverses steep, and erosion-prone CBD riverbanks. The largest slip has happened on land owned by Tainui Group Holdings.

Waikato River pathway
PETER DRURY/ Fairfax NZ
SLIPPING AWAY: A section of the Waikato River pathway crossing land owned by Tainui has been closed since July 2011 after a slip between Bryce St and Claudelands Bridge.

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Councillors have decided against spending $50,000 on slip-damaged Tainui-owned land and say it should be handed over for the "peppercorn sum" of $1 so they can fix a section of the river walkway.

The council's pathway crosses the 750 square metre plot but has been closed since July 2011 after a slip between Bryce St and Claudelands Bridge.

Tainui has previously refused to contribute to the costs of fixing the slip, which council staff valued at around $650,000 for soil nailing plus $100,000 for restoring the walkway.

The recommendation from council staff to the finance committee was to buy the land from Tainui for up to $50,000 so it could complete that work.

But the committee yesterday downscaled the amount it was prepared to hand over to a token dollar, given it would fund the repair work.

Deputy mayor Gordon Chesterman said the idea of a $1 cost had been pushed at a "relationship meeting" with Te Arataura - an executive body of Tainui - and was to be taken back to the tribe.

"I think that it's worth staff checking again with Tainui in case they have come to the conclusion that it would be in the interests of Tainui and the city to do it for a dollar."

But the matter had "gone on far too long" and a decision had to be made unless there was a rapid change on the price Tainui was setting over the next few days, he said.

Councillor Dave Macpherson was strongly opposed to the council handing over $50,000 to Tainui.

"Their share of the remediation is far more than the land purchase price. I wouldn't support paying anything at all to them because either way we're going to have to pay for the remediation."

He proposed the council should pay the "peppercorn sum" of $1 and any legal fees from the transfer.

Before the meeting, Dinsdale man Denis Corcoran lodged his "protest" to the proposal of buying the land.

"Tainui, who deals in billions, won't fix it. There should be some way of making them fix this mess."

Council's general manager for community Lance Vervoort said getting the land fast would save on costs as work could be undertaken by contractors already working on nearby slip sites.

"If the negotiatiators say no to $1 and we have to come back to council again in a month's time we may lose the opportunity to save $80,000."

The land purchase will be revisited at the council meeting on May 29, which Vervoort said would still allow time for the council to make the saving. Waikato Times was unable to make contact with Tainui before publication.

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