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Future of Wharf Road Walkway in state of flux

April 23rd, 2010
By David Armstrong

The planning of a walkway along and beside Wharf Road across the estuary is in limbo while the District Council sorts out the consent process required before it can proceed. And the main driver of the project, Keep Motueka Beautiful (KMB) stalwart Bob Cooke, is so annoyed by the obstacles being placed in the way that he is considering stepping aside.

This walkway will run beside the narrow Wharf Road between Port Motueka and the State Highway roundabout, allowing walkers and cyclists to safely travel its length without the fear of fast traffic within arm's length. It will also complete the link in the long walkway chain along the foreshore and across to Lower Moutere.

At last week's monthly meeting of KMB, the recent events in this major project were discussed in detail. Bob Cooke has spent more than two years planning the project with TDC engineer Steve Elkington and the Department of Conservation. All seemed to be going well, and Bob had hoped work would have started this month and be finished by May.

Initially he had been told no Resource Consent would have been required, and then Steve advised him that a Non-notifiable Resource Consent would be needed. But recently Bob said he had become most frustrated by having to deal with no less than eight different Council officers and consultants, each of whom added conditions which would have greatly escalated the project cost way beyond the original budget.

He said the final straw was that it is now going to be a Notified Resource Consent Application, which would take at least three months to complete. Bob has told KMB in a letter tabled at the previous meeting that he has lost interest in the project and may do no more work on it.

The consultants are now believed to be requiring that the walkway be considerably wider and higher than was initially planned and will extend further into the estuary, meaning the construction cost itself will be much greater. Also Bob pointed out that there would be no point in starting the project in a couple of months as the weather would get in the way, and that a start date late in the year would be much more appropriate.

KMB decided that Bob's letter should remain on the table, and carried a motion that the group had no further involvement in the walkway until the application by TDC is resolved and decided.

Comment by Wayne Elia:
[Posted 3 May 2010]
Thank you for the article about Keep Motueka Beautiful's frustrations with getting the Wharf Road walkway plans finalised so that construction may begin.

I am sure that locally there is large amount of support for this project. It will be a welcome route that as well as getting a massive amount of foot traffic, will make the course-way safer for all users.

This also supports council and government policy of getting people away from using their cars so much. I know people who will only travel this road in a motor vehicle as they have felt so vulnerable as pedestrian or cyclist. They will be pleased to see Keep Motueka Beautiful get this work done. But so will many other people, who will appreciate a new safe walking route to the wharf and saltwater baths from High Street.

I am sure that Motueka councillors will want the job done, and like the rest of us, will not wish to await 2019 for it's construction.

My thoughts are that the council should facilitate this work taking place as soon as possible, with allowance for upgrading to planner designs in 2019. You cannot use a walkway that is not there. If it is up to the standard of what has been done by Keep Motueka Beautiful then it will serve us fine and at least we shall have a good safe walk.

Through the years I have spoken to many people who think that it is daft that there is no provision for foot traffic on this road.

In order to gauge how much support there is for this walkway I am going to stand at the parking area by the floodgates [alongside the boat pens] Saturday 22nd May 10am.

If you are likeminded then join me, and we can stand together for 15 minutes and watch the traffic go by. I know that there are lots of you.

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