Bridging Owairaka Park

By Rowena Orejana


Dianne Roulston looks across Oakley Creek that divides Owairaka Park and Underwood Park in the suburb of Avondale. Her family have lived in the Owairaka area for years but it was only recently that they explored Underwood, the "other park".

"Our reaction was 'wow'. We wish we had discovered it much earlier. It is a fantastic, safe place for kids to ride their bikes and a nice stroll forfamilies."

Ms Roulston says a bridge connecting the parks would encourage more people to walk from one to the other. Many people have told her that there had been some talk at council about building a bridge but that "no one seems to have an awareness of what has happened".

Many children risk crossing over a narrow pole. "Of course, the kids will use that. It's human nature kids would cross it. I've never seen anyone fall in but it's not safe," Ms Roulston says.

Puketapapa Local Board chairman Richard Barter, who holds the transport, environment and sustainability portfolios, says the board is 90 per cent of the way to getting the $340,000 footbridge under way. It was supposed to have been started last summer and ready two months ago. "From my understanding, there are no problems.

It is just the wheels of bureaucracy are many and they sometimes turn slower than we would like."

He says most design matters - such as provision for floods - have already been addressed.

The public would need to be advised of the proposal, "which means another consultation process with affected parties".

"The consent will be notified as it changes the surrounds due to the ramps etcetera leading up to the bridge. While the local community has been very enthusiastic about the bridge, you never know if someone might object."

Construction will still be a few months away, Mr Barter says. "Work will not commence until the area is dry enough for trucks."

Ms Roulston says it is great that the project has not fallen off the agenda. She says Owairaka Park is a fantastic park as well as an easy place to get to for meeting other mums with young children. But she wonders how long it will take to link the two parks.

"When will the notification and consultation process start? If that could commence now then at least we might see the bridge installed at the beginning of summer rather than the end."

Presently, people can access Underwood Park only from Richardson Rd - a comparatively long way.

"The local roads, especially Richardson Rd, have got busier than ever since the completion of the motorway from Onehunga to New Windsor," Ms Roulston says. "Owairaka really needs safe and accessible green space for locals to exercise and simply enjoy the outdoors without a constant stream of traffic passing by."


PARKING LOT

Owairaka Park was formerly the site of Owairaka Boys' Home. It became a community garden in 2006 to soothe friction between various groups.

It was upgraded in 2008 at a cost of $1.64 million and has a basketball court, skate park and playground.

A bridge to Underwood Park would also connect it to the growing number of cycleways.


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- THE AUCKLANDER

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