MANGAWHAI COMMUNITY PLAN (ALAMAR RESERVE) - LATEST NEWS 14.07.2019
Following ratepayers objections to the KDC’s proposals for Alamar Reserve, the KDC has regrouped and come back with a total revamp of the Mangawhai Community Plan (MCP) proposals.
The proposal to construct a walkway/cycleway through the heart of the Alamar Reserve was ill-conceived. It was unclear which of the projects it was meant to be - footpath, shared cycleway and pathway, access to the coast, or part of the continuous coastal walkway. Perhaps it was mixture of all of them.
Suddenly with the new KDC proposals the continuous coastal walkway now has the starring role with the other projects not even mentioned.
In the MCP the continuous coastal walkway was not mentioned in the body of the document but simply referred to in the chart on page 27. The initial stage was to be the stretch from Head Beach to Pearl Street with a walkway over the rocks to Picnic Bay. The map on page 12 referred to it as "all tide coastal access".
The new proposals take a totally different approach. The coastal walkway has taken centre stage with immediate priority, whilst the other projects are not mentioned.
An advisory group of 5 or 6 members will be appointed by the KDC to oversee the whole project. In addition each segment of the walkway will have its own project advisory group which will be made up of the KDC appointed advisory group and representatives of the local community.
But before we get too carried away there are some important questions to ask.
Do we need a continuous coastal walkway?
The new proposals say this:
At present, the Coastal Walkway is disjointed, and in certain circumstances, non-existent. Difficult access and terrain in certain segments make it unusable by certain groups and creates challenges to accessing the coastal environment.
Surely difficult terrain is what the coast in New Zealand is all about. Can we expect to be able to walk (or cycle - it is a cycleway as well) along every metre of the coast? Do we want or need to have an uninterrupted walk/cycle around the coastline of Mangawhai?
One of the proposals is to build a wooden walkway from the KDC Campsite in Alamar Crescent over the rocks to Picnic Bay. Is that environmentally appropriate? And what of the cost?
And what are the groups that find certain segments of the coastline unusable? The reference is to those with mobility issues though age or illness. The consultant firm, Resilio, believes that all people irrespective of their age or health should be able to walk or have wheeled access to the coastline. Is that really sensible or feasible?
Can we afford the proposals?
Most ratepayers in Mangawhai are unaware that they are already paying a premium on their rates to meet the cost of the MCP. Those costs are huge. Have a look at all the number of reports that were prepared by consultants before the Plan even got off the ground. The current KDC consultant Resilio will be costing a small fortune. And the ground work has not even started yet.
There are estimates for the costs of the projects but you can expect them to be nowhere near the final costs. Those costs will be met by the ratepayers of Mangawhai. KDC and NRC rates increase for Mangawhai for the 2018/2019 rating years proably averaged over 20 per cent. In the new rating year (that has just started) the average increase across the district increase is 5.26 per cent. These are already way above the increases in consumer price index and the local government cost index, and they will continue to increase if we spend money on such projects.
Kaipara has a massive debt brought about by the incompetence of a previous council. Should we not be concentrating on getting rid of that debt and avoiding projects such as this - which we cannot afford and which are not really a priority for our community?
Rather than ticking the boxes of projects that are dangled before us as if they were freebies with no financial consequences, perhaps we should call out “Stop”, consider the cost, and look at what is essential. From what I am hearing coastal walkways, slow roads and all those fancy new ideas have no relevance to Mangawhai. Most residents simply want a footpath/cycleway between the Heads and the Village that goes alongside the road, rather than meandering for kilometres along the coastline. Footpaths would also be welcome in places where they are missing.
A couple of years ago the KDC developed “designer” options for Alamar Crescent and the Reserve. The residents rejected the proposals because they were a waste of money and would have a negative impact on the natural amenities of the location. That might be an example which we should follow in respect of the MCP.
The online survey document has plans of each segment of the proposed walkway. They are difficult to understand because of symbols in circles which are not explained on the plans themselves. To find out what the symbols mean you have to go to Path Improvement Options towards the beginning of the document which shows the different types of paths with a symbol representing each one.
The proposals for Alamar Reserve have changed substantially. The feedback from the community is that the grass reserve functions perfectly well as a walkway and there is no requirement for a formalised path. There is a need for a footpath but not through the reserve. One of the plans shows a 2 metre wide concrete footpath close to the row of pohutukawa trees. This would either impinge on the reserve or the parking area for cars.
The consultants appear to have a mind-set about defining walkways in gravel, wood or concrete. Where the walkway or footpath crosses the two boat ramps in Alamar Crescent they propose a raised 2 metre wide concrete walkway with zebra crossing type painting. It will be intersting to see what the boaties have to say.
If we commit to this project it may turn out to be a millstone around ratepayers’ necks. It did not start well with the rather dictatorial attitude of KDC staff and their “high end” aspirations. Perhaps this is the time when we should step back and consider if this is what we want, and whether, as a community, we can afford it.
HALT ON FOOTPATH A WIN FOR LOCALS 25.04.2019
See the latest from the Mangawhai Focus on the community’s fight to save the Alamar Reserve.
COUNCILLOR LARSEN 18.04.2019
Councillor Larsen’s column in the current edition of the Mangawhai Focus sets out the latest information on several matters that are of importance to ratepayers.
He reports on the three items that he has successfully argued before the council. He also summarises the outcome of the representation review appeal, and the reduction of the number of councillors in the east.
Importantly, for those who are justifiably irate about the KDC’s proposals for the Alamar Reserve, he sets out clearly how the KDC has responded. Measures have been put in place to review all the priority projects, which will then be consulted on with the community. He gives the assurance that all physical work have been put on hold until that has happened.
Councillor Larsen adds that if anyone has any community projects or issues that they would like assistance with, he can be contacted on 021 185 8389 or Cr.Larsen@kaipara.govt.nz. Or check out his ‘The WorkBoot Councillor’ Facebook page for regular updates.
ALAMAR RESERVE UPDATE 12.04.2019
There has been some concern about the mysterious blue crosses suddenly appearing throughout the Alamar Reserve. All sorts of sinister theories have been floated as to their significance. However in a post on its website the KDC has now scotched all of those rumours:
From Wednesday 10 April to Friday 12 April, a drone operator will be capturing footage around the coastal area of Mangawhai, from around the estuary to the Heads beach.
This is in order to get footage of the entire area, so that we can better align any proposed walkways, and to better understand the areas that may need further work.
The spray paint marks allow for better measurement from the aerial footage as GPS Markers.
In the same post the KDC states:
There is no physical work being undertaken until a further meeting is held in May with the community of Mangawhai.
That is a very sensible response from the Council given the strength of feeling about the issue within the community.
DEMOCRACY AND CONSULTATION TAKE ANOTHER BEATING 11.04.2019
Democracy and the concept of ratepayer consultation took a severe beating with the release of the Determination of the Local Government Commission (LGC) on the representation arrangements for the KDC in the forthcoming local body elections later this year.
The representation review defines the wards for the election, their boundaries and the number of councillors representing each ward.
In a surprising move the LGC endorsed the proposal advanced by Mayor Smith despite the majority of ratepayers’ submissions being opposed to the proposal, and despite its apparent conflict with some of the guiding principles for assessing fair and effective representation.
The proposal adopted by the LGC was promoted by Mayor Smith. In a vote to adopt the proposal the elected councillors were tied, which meant that the vote was not carried. However Mayor Smith used his casting vote (second vote) to ensure that the proposal was adopted. This was despite the fact that of 81 submissions the majority of 53 were against the proposal.
Whilst the LGC emphasised that it is required to form its own view on all matters within the scope of the review, it decided to endorse the proposal of Mayor Smith in every respect. This was despite a very strong argument that, because of the communities of interest, the Otamatea ward should not be separated from Kaiwaka/Mangawhai.
The LGC also ignored the advice of its own adviser Gavin Beattie who noted that, as the KDC had adopted the STV electoral system, it was generally agreed that larger multi-member wards (at least three-member wards) or at large systems are necessary to achieve proportional representation under this system. Mayor Smith’s proposal did not meet that requirement. The LGC neatly side-stepped that issue by suggesting that that issue should be considered in three years’ time.
Perhaps the biggest concern expressed by the appellants (Helen Curreen, Clive Boonham and Paul Smith) was that the fair representation rule was breached by the Mayor’s proposal. For the purposes of fair representation for the electors of a district, section 19V(2) of the Act requires that the population of each ward divided by the number of members to be elected by that ward must produce a figure no more than 10 per cent greater or smaller than the population of the district divided by the total number of members (the ‘+/-10% rule’).
Based on historic figures from 2017 the KDC proposal showed that Kaiwaka/Mangawhai was +9.40 % and Dargaville -9.93 %, both on the cusp of legality. With the growth of Mangawhai and Kaiwaka in the intervening years, and the decline in population of Dargaville, it seemed absolutely clear that the +/- 10% rule had already been exceeded in both cases on a factual basis.
Whilst technically the old figures had to be used, the LGC’s adviser Gavin Beattie stated that: “While projected population is not a statutory criterion, Commission officers consider it can be used as an argument to support a particular decision.”
The Commission did not consider Mr Beatties’s comments and stated bluntly that the KDC’s proposal complied with the +/- 10 % rule without further comment.
Legally another representation review need not be undertaken for another 6 years, so in fact this coming election and the next one in three years will use representation figures that are completely out of date. The LGC referred to Mayor Smith’s statement that “he would like to see the council undertake another representation review in three years”. Referring to that very nebulous statement the LGC concluded: “On that basis we have decided to endorse the council’s final proposal”.
The end result is the Kaiwaka/Mangawhai will have only 2 councillors out of a total of 8. When it comes to voting they will have two votes against seven (6 councillors and the mayor).
The sad thing is that this whole affair has illustrated that the consultation with ratepayers by the KDC is simply a charade. No matter what the ratepayers say, it appears that the outcome is a done-deal. Likewise with the appeal process. Those who took part in it will probably agree that it felt like a formality, with the outcome predetermined. Taking part was like swimming against the tide in the Mangawhai Estuary.
If consultation is meaningless then the only power that ratepayers wield is at the ballot box. Unfortunately ratepayers in the east have been seriously disenfranchised by the KDC’s proposal and will find it difficult to vote in representatives that have any say in the future of Kaipara.
As a matter of interest, the elected members voted as follows:
For the KDC’s proposed representation review:
Councillors Curnow, del la Varis-Woodcock, Joyce-Paki and Mayor Smith
Against the proposal:
Councillors Geange, Jones, Larsen and Wethey
Councillor Wade was absent and did not make an arrangement for a telephone vote.
With the vote tied 4-4 Mayor Smith used his second casting vote to carry the resolution.
HOW DID THE ALAMAR RESERVE DEBACLE HAPPEN? 05.04.2019
According to Councillor Larsen’s post, the chief executive of the KDC, Louise Miller, reported as follows:
Mangawhai Coastal walkway design and construction project tender has closed and staff are now working with Resilio as the preferred tenderer. Stage 1 (Pearl Street to Sellars carpark) of the coastal walkways physical works has been awarded to Broadspectrum with work due to start early April 2019.
This reflects what KDC staff have been telling ratepayers, that the project is a done deal and the contract has been let. Clearly that is correct.
However, KDC staff have also been telling ratepayers that they were consulted on the Mangawhai Community Plan (MCP), that they supported the proposals, and that the KDC is simply implementing the wishes of ratepayers.
That’s where the KDC heads into la-la land.
The MCP states on page 2:
The Mangawhai Community Plan (MCP) is a document to provide guidance to Kaipara District Council in the management of growth in Mangawhai.
The Plan lists proposals that are very general in nature. The intention was that these proposals would be subsequently fleshed out in consultation with ratepayers. This is what the Plan says (page 2):
Every three years as part of the Long Term Plan process, the costs, priorities and projects will be reviewed.
The proposals in the Plan are incredibly vague. There is an all tide coastal access, footpaths, shared footpath/cycle ways and a continuous coastal walkway. The KDC has confused and conflated these various projects and come up with a hybrid for Alamar Reserve. It is called a coastal walkway, but is in fact a shared pathway/cycleway.
The issue is that none of these proposals in the Plan has ever been finalised and consulted with ratepayers. There is no map of the proposed coastal walkway and where it is to be situated. There is no mention of how the walkway is to be formed. The presumption was that where a walkway crossed a reserve it would simply be signposted, as it is at present. There was no indication that it would be formed according to the specifications for a cycleway (see paragraph 4.2 of the Opus report on Mangawhai Cycleway Connection, which is one of the Technical Reports used in drafting the MCP).
The Plan states that any pathway/cycleway would follow the road carriageway (page 8), No mention of it going through the heart of a reserve. In fact no plans or details of the proposal have ever been finalised. Page 26 of the Plan refers to the walking and cycling strategy and states:
Prepare and develop a strategy to determine future walking and cycling connections, formalising the routes in this plan
The formulation of that strategy is an immediate priority (P1) but does not appear to have been undertaken. Or, it has been done in secret.
The priority afforded to the Alamar Reserve hybrid conflicts with the priorities in the Plan. Priority 1 for the coastal walkway is Head Beach to Pearl Street. Alamar Reserve is part of the future stage scheduled for 2021- 2028 onwards. There is no strategy and therefore no priority for the walkway/pathway.
Presumably the KDC staff finalised the proposals in secret and decided not to consult with ratepayers on the final strategy. They also prepared responses to rebut ratepayers’ objections – “You asked for it, we are just implementing it”, “it’s a done deal, the contract has been let.”
The cost wastage is enormous. There will be a very expensive contract with Resilio and a large part all that work will be wasted, not because of Resilio, but because the KDC staff jumped the gun and gave Resilio instructions based on proposals that has not been consulted with ratepayers.
We are now back to square one. Someone needs to put a boot up the KDC staff and ensure that the proposals and strategies are consulted with ratepayers through every stage. There is a lot of good common sense out there in the community and this is an occasion when the KDC, including CEO, staff and elected members, should all be listening.
ALAMAR RESERVE 03.04.2019
No definite news yet from the KDC. However, it appears that the protests have had an effect and the project is being revisited.
Information will be provided as it comes to hand.
ALAMAR RESERVE – LATEST 27.03.2019
The meeting with Council staff
An excellent turn out, some strongly expressed opinions, with the result that the KDC is now going to reconsider its options.
Well done everyone.
Contacting the community
The KDC obtained email addresses of all of those interested in the issues. However we do not have those details ourselves. If you would like to be kept in the loop as to what is happening then simply send an email to me at email@example.com I will use the information to send updates to you and it can be used by anyone wanting to share information or ideas.
Mangawhai Community Plan (MCP)
The MCP can be viewed here.
Council staff repeat the mantra that the MCP was approved by ratepayers, adopted as part of the current long term plan, and that the KDC is simply implementing it.
That is not correct for the following reasons.
Trying to understand the MCP
The Connections map on page 12 of the MCP sets out the various projects which affect Alamar Crescent. Unfortunately the scale is so small you will need to use the enlarger at the top of the page, and even then it is not clear.
Alamar Crescent is not identified but it is the blue road heading north at the eastern end of North Avenue. Alamar Reserve is not shown at all.
The following projects appear to be relevant to Alamar Crescent.
Te Araroa Trail
This is shown in ochre running along Alamar Crescent on the map on page 12. There is no explanation of the Trail in the MCP.
All tide coastal access.
This is the purple strip around the coastline on the map on page 12. It merely gives access to the coast. It is not a walkway. The Alamar Reserve gives access to the coast so there is nothing further to do in that location. (I suspect that KDC staff has confused this project with the coastal walkway.)
Mangawhai Heads Loop
The Mangawhai Heads Loop is shown on the Slow Street Map on page 7 of the MCP.
It is referred to again on page 21 as: “cycle/walking on road shared paths” and described as:
Mangawhai Heads loop shared path (Wood Street / Robert Street / North Avenue / Alamar Crescent / camping grounds / Mangawhai Heads Road including Wood Street upgrade.
On page 8 it states that “a shared use path for cycling and walking would follow the road carriageway for its full length. It would therefore follow Alamar Crescent rather than cutting though Alamar Reserve. It is P2 priority which means 2021-2024 and is costed at $775,000 (page 21).
This loop also appears to be the blue strip along Alamar Crescent on the map on page 12 with the legend: “walking and/or cycling connections-proposed”.
It is unclear where this shared path will be located.
On page 21 is a list of the proposed works, their priority and cost. This list includes:
Footpaths: Footpath along Alamar Crescent. P1 = 2018-2020. Cost: $47,000
This is an immediate priority. A footpath is a concrete walkway about 1.5 metres wide alongside the roadway.
This is described in the list of projects on page 27 as follows:
Continuous Coastal walkway: Initial stage - Head Beach to Pearl Street. Priority P1: 2018-2020. Cost: $300,000
Future Stages to Mangawhai Village Priority P2-P4: 2021 – 2029 and onwards. Cost: $1,442,366 (right down to the last dollar and yet it will not be completed in the next 10 years!)
Surprisingly there is no mention of this coastal walkway in the body of the Plan. No map. No indication where it will go, and how it is to be formed. It is clearly a coastal walkway only, not a cycle path.
It appears that the walkway across the Alamar Reserve is intended to be part of this walkway simply because the recent letter from the KDC is headed Development of Mangawhai Coastal Walkway.
At the recent meeting the KDC staff were adamant that the coastal walkway should be useable by all people including those with disabilities and must therefore have a formed, hard surface. The reality is that KDC does not have the money or the space available to provide such a facility. By its very nature a coastal walkway will consist of all sorts of different terrain, gradients and steps that would test able-bodied people. The KDC should concentrate on providing a concrete footpath for those who need a hard and level surface.
Note that this project is of immediate priority (P1) but that only applies to the section from Head Beach to Pearl Street. Alamar Crescent is not mentioned but would comes within future stages with a P2 to P4 priority (2021 – 2028 and onwards). Why then has it been brought forward?
It is clear that there is a need for properly formed footpaths. The "mule track" from the Heads to the Village is a fine example. We need one in Alamar Crescent as well so those with wheels or those who need a firm footing are catered for. But we must not confuse that issue with the coasal walkway. That is a separate matter altogether and cannot, because of the terrain, be accessible by everyone. I suggest that we concentrate on sorting out the location for the footpath, which by its very nature must be alongside the roadway. Once that need has been met we can revisit the concept of the coastal walkway where it crosses reserves (signposts as at present?). Cycleways are the "in thing", but is there enough space for one along Alamar Crescent?
I am happy to publish any views on the issue.
For earlier posts go here.