Bush rail opponents anger mayor

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Western Bay Mayor Ross Paterson has lashed out against the influence of TECT All Terrain Park's sports groups who oppose the development of a historic bush railway and old sawmill at the park.

Mr Paterson vented his frustration yesterday, saying the user groups were telling the councils what should be done on council land.

His outburst came during a meeting of the joint committee of the Tauranga city and Western Bay councils which administer the 1638-hectare park at the top of Pyes Pa.

Sports groups that lease areas of the park have resisted the plan to allow people to experience the sights and sounds of steam era logging and milling.

Mr Paterson said he was disappointed where the process had reached on the application from the Bush Railway and Old Sawmill Trust.

A lot of work had been done on the plan, which fitted the total picture of the park and he was disappointed that the actions to date could see the trust go elsewhere. "It is not a good situation." the mayor said.

The committee agreed in October to approve in principle the location of the railway and sawmill and to refer the plan to the park's user groups forum. Issues raised at the forum included whether the bush railway and sawmill was a suitable activity for the park.

Park manager Ric Balfour said that having assessed issues raised at the forum and by council staff, the trust had been told to reconsider the proposal and decide whether it wanted to pursue the venture.

The committee will consider the bush railway proposal next year once the trust had responded.

The forum sparked a five-page question-and-answer response from the trust, together with letters from users including Te Matai Motorsport representing clubs using the park's motorsport zone and the Bay of Plenty branch of the NZ Deerstalkers Association.

Deerstalkers president Dean Maisey said deerstalkers and the Association of Sports and Recreation Clubs had repeatedly written to the council about the vague and generalised wording of the park's vision, which did not adequately reflect the purpose of the park.

Mr Maisey said the key words in the vision statement were "adventure" and "education" without even a mention of sport or recreation. "We do not believe this park was ever intended to be a passive entertainment park for tourists ... the Bush Railway and Old Sawmill Trust proposal must be considered a secondary infill activity at best."

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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