Land owners object to Hikuai cycleway being built on flood plain
A number of Hikuai land owners have voiced their concerns about a cycleway planned for banks of the flood-prone Tairua river.
At a public meeting on June 22, the Hikuai Hall was packed with residents, who said they wanted the cycleway. However, many objected to the location of stage three of the Hikuai cycleway, which was planned for the marginal strip along the river.
The public meeting was held by landowner Jon Kern, who said he wanted the trail to be built alongside Hikuai Settlement Rd instead.
"We want to be listened to before a bunch of money is poured into a flood plain," he said.
Landowner Janet Clarke said the river had already flooded seven times this year and flooding was severe enough to lift tarseal off the road, erode concrete and damage fences.
"Because of the severity of the flooding and the erosion of the riverbank, we feel it's a very unsuitable location and placement for a cycle or walk track," she said.
"The cost to the community and possibly the tax payers to repair the track's infrastructure along these parts of the river after each flood would be substantial and ongoing."
Landowner Keith Dalgety believed a cycleway along the road would provide easier access for maintenance or emergency services.
"To us as practical people, it just seems to make more sense."
There were also concerns about building the cycleway through a sensitive wetland environment, which was also used for whitebaiting and duck shooting.
TCDC Tairua-Pauanui and Whangamata area manager Garry Towler told the crowd that when he was the project manager for the Hauraki Rail Trail, which went through 54 dairy farms, there were many similar meetings.
"There are outcomes, we can get there, it's just a matter of all of us working together, being sensible and we will get a solution," he said.
Stage one and two of the cycleway has been completed, from Pauanui Waterways to Duck Creek, and the Hikuai District Trust wanted to build the remainder of the trail to eventually take cyclists about 25km from Pauanui to Tairua.
Trust chairperson Gary Fowler said the trust had lodged a resource consent application with Waikato Regional Council, and hoped to make a start on construction of stage three of the cycleway in Hikuai by Christmas if they could get landowner consent.
Fowler said the trust could legally go ahead with the proposed route without permission from the landowners.
"Legally, we could put it there, but as far as I'm concerned, I won't.
"What probably will happen is that we'll go as far as we can, then we'll put it on the road. And then you'll get the group who are anti putting it on the road. So I've got this real problem, trying to balance."
Fowler believed putting the trail along the river was the ideal route because it was more scenic and safer than the road, which had a high volume of traffic.
He believed it would be too expensive to build the cycleway next to the narrow road, which would call for an estimated $100,000 pole-type ramp system where there were steep banks next to the road.
"It drops straight off, so below that would have to be like a bridge and it would probably be for 70 or 80m."
Fowler said flooding in the area would be a challenge but not a problem for the proposed river trail, which would be concreted in flood-prone areas.
"We've really looked at it and because I farm there, I know that it does flood but it's what you call clean floods. They come up, sure they'll cover the trail, they do already on the trail we've built, and they go down again."
Another public meeting is planned for July 25.