Martin Snedden goes out to bat against concrete but (sadly) not against cycle tracks

We should all support this motorist-friendly cafe.

We should all support this motorist-friendly cafe.

In the normal course of events, the member for Eketahuna North would enthusiastically support anyone who opposes the construction of a cycle track that runs past their family holiday home.

Cycle tracks unfortunately are apt to be used by cyclists, who too typically tend to be sweaty buggers clad in Lycra.

When in Christchurch (something that sometimes can’t be avoided), Alf therefore frequents Heathcote’s Castle Rock Cafe.

He decided it deserved his patronage after it was emboldened to declare itself “unashamedly motorist-friendly since 2008” and stick up a sign deterring Lycra-clad cyclists from entering.

“The bicycle is a beautiful thing but they never should have invented Lycra! No Lycra shorts please,” it reads.

Another solid reason for being hostile towards cycle tracks, of course, is that they are supported by the Greens, and anything supported by the Greens is bound to be antithetical to the best interests of the community.

Tourism chief Martin Snedden’s wife, Annie, and other holidaying neighbours therefore deserve support for sticking a spanner in the spokes of plans to have a concrete cycle track pass their lakefront holiday homes outside Taupo.

Trouble is, it was not uncompromising opposition, according to a report in the Herald.

The objection was to the use of concrete, apparently, rather than to the ugly prospect of cyclists riding up and down this stretch of track.

We are told:

Legal action was threatened as concrete was poured, and the town’s mayor called in to find a solution – a special section of track to “appease” those upset about the path.

Instead of concrete, the 100m section outside some of the objectors’ homes will be made of plastic matting, through which grass will be seeded and grown.

The section will cost rate payers about an extra $10,000 – but is intended to be more pleasing to look at than concrete.

It all came about thanks to a $240,000 gift by former transport company owners Matt and Heather Purvis to extend the lakeside concrete walkway 1.7km along a waterfront reserve at Five Mile Bay.

The track is said to be popular with walkers and cyclists and begins 10km away in central Taupo.

The donation and the plan for the concrete track were notified in council agendas, letters to houses in the area, council press releases and media coverage.

But objectors with holiday homes are complaining they had no knowledge of it until construction started in December.

Among them were the Sneddens and their neighbours, Hawkes Bay lawyer Peter Twigg and Wellington cardiologist Malcolm Abernethy, who say they should have been consulted.

This Abernethy feller met contractors pouring concrete, who ignored his pleas to halt what they were doing.

Taupo Mayor David Trewavas turned up 90 minutes later with a senior council officer.

Somehow a deal was struck whereby the path in that area will be grassed.

But this obviously means nothing has been done to stop the cycle track’s construction. Rather, this bit of the cycle track will not be concreted.

Alf accordingly is puzzled at the thrust of the Herald report, which is that Snedden’s involvement is at odds with his job as boss of the Tourism Industry Association.

His defence looks reasonable.

“I think this is a private situation. I’m not the dominant voice. I’m just someone expressing an opinion.”

He said a lack of consultation with holiday home-owners was a major factor in frustrations.

“They knew the residents here are people who are not here for 52 weeks of the year.”

Mayor Trewavas seems a bit snarky about the holiday set.

“They didn’t like the aesthetics of the concrete. They preferred it to have a slightly better look than concrete.”

He said he hoped those objecting would help ratepayers meet the cost, which included regular watering to encourage grass to grow through the matting.

But if they are ratepayers – which they must be if they own the holiday homes – then obviously they will be contributing.

He also made no secret that the compromise deal is simply intended to mollify the Sneddens and their neighbours and is a temporary sop.

He said the solution was probably not permanent.

“This is a measure to appease some people for the moment.”

Deputy mayor Keith Crate was similarly snarky.

He said those who lived in the area were irked it was temporary residents who were complaining.

“They only come here for a week a year. It’s arrogance.”

But will the council reduce their rates in accordance with this recognition of their temporary residency and therefore their much lesser use of council services?

Not bloody likely.

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