ONETANGI RESERVE LEASES
Mr Paul Walden’s response to Anne Kilgour’s letter (Gulf News 16 January) is misleading and reflects his personal crusade against the 40 year aspirations of a large body of Waiheke residents and tourists to establish an l8 hole golf course at Onetangi Reserve. Some background and context is instructive:
1) In 1973 the golf club was granted a 15 year lease on the Onetangi land by the then owners to develop a 9 hole course, with an option(and expectation) to extend the lease in order to develop an 18 hole course. Members of the club constructed the course with voluntary labour.
2) After purchase in 1984 by Auckland City Council, the land was designated as a recreation reserve and, in l995, following extensive public consultation, a draft reserve management plan for Rangihoua Park was published. That plan provided for an l8 hole course, (where the present course is situated) reflecting an overwhelming public demand for this facility.
3) In 2003 Auckland City Council formalised the golf club’s tenancy and resolved to grant a 15 year lease to the golf club with a view to developing the final 9 holes.
4) In 2007 Auckland City Council and the golf club signed the formal lease.
5) In 2011 Mr Walden was instrumental in pointing out shortcomings in the statuary procedures relating to the 2007 lease (and leases of the museum and riding club) as a result of which the leases were set aside.
6) In 2012 the local board set in train procedures to grant replacement leases to the golf club, the museum and the riding club.
7) Following extensive public consultation and several days of hearings, the local board, led by an independent commissioner, on 31 January 2013 resolved to grant a replacement lease. The new lease to the golf club was signed in October 2013 and is now subject only to the approval of the Minister of Conservation. The lease requires the implementation of the 18 hole development in accordance with a complex set of plans and conditions embodied in resource consents gained over a two year period at considerable expense. Those plans and consents are, and have been, available to the public. The statutory process which was followed in granting the new leases (and a landing platform for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter) consumed hundreds of hours of public officials’ time and a very significant amount of public funds.
8) The golf course is an important amenity on the island which is a major tourist destination. Apart from providing a vital social and recreational facility for Waiheke residents, it also caters for many thousands of tourists each year.
9) Mr Walden and his supporters keep harping on about the need for a reserve management plan for the Onetangi Reserve. But he is aware that Auckland Council, along with most other councils in New Zealand, does not, for financial and other reasons, have a policy of implementing management plans for reserves. And in the case of the Onetangi Reserve, there is nothing left to ‘manage’. The entire park is subject to a discrete and comprehensive scheme in the district plan, which itself has been the product of successive reviews and extensive public consultations. Onetangi Park reflects in all material respects the draft reserve management plan published in 1995.
Mr Walden says that the development of the golf course will burden ratepayers with a further $1.5 million. There is no plan, nor any commitment, by Auckland Council to provide funding for the golf course. I suspect that Mr Walden is claiming that revenue arising from clean fill introduced for the development (less than $200,000) and to be applied towards that development, is ‘public money’ which the council is forgoing. There is, of course, no cost to the community because, without the development, there would be no such money. These funds will be applied toward creating a worthwhile public facility on the island.
Mr Walden needs to move on and stop wasting public time and money on relitigating the golf club’s 40 year occupation of the land and its further development, in accordance with longstanding public support and aspirations.
Finally, I am surprised that Mr Walden, in his capacity as local board chairman, continues to be involved in the lease process against his acknowledged conflict of interest and self-disqualification until the process has run its course. A more responsible approach to his board position and Auckland Council’s Code of Conduct is warranted.
I've been sent the full text of the letter from John Collings regarding the Golf Club lease issue that was edited in yesterday's Gulf News .The edited parts are in bold and red.The Waiheke Marketplace refused to print the letter at all. That is a shame. Granting of the golf club lease at Onetangi Sports Park is a wider issue for the community because leases are also pending for the Riding Club, Historical Society and a 'right to occupy' for the Westpac Helicopter Trust. Protecting the Chair of the Local Board from criticism only serves to strengthen the community perception that our press is one-eyed and politically biased.