Chair of the Waiheke Local Board Paul Walden keeps pets. His pets of choice are horses. Horses need lots of space for exercise.
Fortunately, the Waldens are a wealthy, landowning family who own 51 hectares of land at the end of Onetangi Straight, ample room to provide for their horses’ needs.
Unfortunately, the family is still waiting to hear if their submission to the Auckland Plan to change the rural/urban boundary (RUB) so that they can build an 80 house village on their 51 hectare site has been approved. However, they are hopeful that with the help of Cllr. Mike Lee, whose lawyer is Ron Walden, they will get their boundary change, so they are busy providing for the future exercise needs of their horses by extending their access to other exercise areas.
Fortunately, Onetangi Sports Park (OSP) is nearby leading to bridle paths around the maunga and onto a network of bridle trails around the island.
Hundreds of thousands of ratepayers’ money have been poured into a bridle path in the last two years that leads from Onetangi Rd, through the wetland site of ecological significance, into OSP. This gives ‘safe’ access from the Adult Riding Club (with around 12 members) on Onetangi Road into the park. Problem solved for the Waldens you would think.
Unfortunately, the Chairman himself lives in another property the family owns in Ostend. This means access to OSP for his horses in Ostend has to be along Onetangi Road from the western end.
Fortunately, this is no problem if you’re the Chairman of the Local Board with access to ratepayers’ money and a bunch of sycophants on the Board cowed into submission. You spend another hundred thousand or so of ratepayers’ money to make the footpath along the southern side of Onetangi Rd from Erua Rd into a bridle path.
Once onto O’Brien Rd there is an inconvenient bridge over the wetlands just before you get to the entrance into OSP that narrows the foot/bridle path there so that for around 10 metres a horse or pedestrian has to use the road. O’Brien Rd is not a busy road. I pass there most days and have never seen a horse rider along that stretch, although I have seen a rare pedestrian.
Nevertheless, around two hundred thousand of ratepayers’ money has been found by this Board to build what I have previously dubbed the ‘Bridle Bridge to Brigadoon’, to make it ‘safer’ for the occasional pedestrian or horse-riding members of the Walden family to have access to OSP.
Is it any wonder footpaths aren’t mended, planned new footpaths have been canned, roads have potholes, and tourist facilities aren’t improved when this Board chooses to use its discretionary transport capital fund on improving road safety for the islands 50 or so horses. Even the safety of children walking to school is being compromised for the sake of Walden's horses.
Dog owners can only marvel at the self-serving hypocrisy of Walden and his Board as they pour hundreds of thousands of dog-owners’ money into better exercise facilities for Chairman Walden’s and the island’s 50 or so horses whilst denying more than 1000 dog owners the freedoms they have always enjoyed to give their dogs the exercise they need.
The Board should take note. Only fools and horses kick dog owners and think they will not suffer the consequences.
Board plans Bridle Bridge to Brigadoon
Aye there’s the RUB
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