The fate of an East Auckland reserve will be decided on Tuesday as Auckland councilors meet to vote on whether it should be kept as green space or sold.
This will be the third vote on the hotly contested Fortyfoot Lane reserve in Sunnyhills, which residents have banded together to protect.
Howick Ward Councilor Sharon Stewart has written a notice of motion to overturn the 2020 and 2022 decisions to revoke reserve status.
Significant submissions have been made in the lead up to the June 2022 vote. A group of residents have banded together, even creating a website to raise awareness. Rohan Jessiman, one of the group’s members, said more than 700 people submitted submissions, although Auckland Council cited 333 submissions.
Stewart told 1News that protecting the reserve park land is essential for future generations, “particularly in this area where there will be significant intensification.
“I, the local council and the community of Howick have consistently advised council and council staff that this reserve is valuable, beloved, well used and should remain part of council open space.
“As we see more and more development and intensification, we should keep the open space we have and not sell it. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. I will urge my colleagues tomorrow advisers to listen to the local community and keep this reserve for our present and future generations to play and relax,” says Stewart.
READ MORE: East Auckland residents ‘gutted’ after council votes to sell park
Albany Ward Councilor John Watson agrees with Stewart’s view.
“When the original vote was in 2020 it was before government legislation increased escalation levels in Auckland, now it’s coming like a tsunami.
“All green spaces like Fortyfoot Lane should be conserved to meet the needs of future generations. This makes the preservation of these green spaces more essential than ever for the health and well-being of communities,” he said.
“Research shows that access to open space is essential to people’s health and well-being and that it is important to support the demands of a local community and all of its elected officials, particularly at a when Auckland is about to undergo unprecedented levels of intensification,” says Watson.
Auckland Council calls the process “asset recycling”, but this community simply sees it as a waste.
“Auckland Council has an obligation to provide value for money to Aucklanders and is committed to providing the services that Aucklanders need in the most efficient and effective way “said Auckland council chief executive Ross Chirnside.
“Council asset management, including asset recycling, is part of this program and takes place across Auckland.
“We regularly review City assets to ensure that we are getting the best value from them, ultimately ensuring that taxpayers are not paying unnecessarily for property maintenance.
“Any proceeds from the sale will go towards our long-term plan’s recovery budget asset sale target of $70 million. Asset recycling has been identified as one of the key levers available to the council to unlock the value of surplus land to better serve the people of Auckland,” he said. .
“Asset recycling is not about financing debt, it’s about making sure we spend responsibly.”
It comes, however, as the board struggles with a hefty $10.6 billion in net debt.
That equates to less than 20% of board assets and is $1 billion less than expected for the 2021/2022 fiscal year, according to Chirnside.