Soggy start to protesters' campaign

By John Cousins

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Pilot Bay's boardwalk protest rally turned into a sodden huddle of determined opponents - sheltering from pouring rain.

The 450 people who said they would attend on the campaign's Facebook page dwindled to less than 40 yesterday, once local politicians were counted.

However, their overwhelming opposition to the council's plan to build a boardwalk along the length of Pilot Bay saw Mayor Stuart Crosby admit council had made a mistake in not consulting the public on the design. He said he had stopped the tender process.

Nearly everyone not connected to the council raised their hands in opposition to the boardwalk, when a vote was taken at the end of the gathering.

Mount Progressive Association chairman David Burnett did not object to the boardwalk as long as the grassed foreshore was maintained to its maximum depth. He wanted the project delayed to allow more thought and expert opinion.

Mr Crosby said the council would be considering issues such as location, width and whether the boardwalk should go ahead or not.

Opposition to the design led to last Wednesday's open day at Pilot Bay where the council displayed the plan and sought feedback.

David Forbes said the open day would not have got a good cross-section of opinion from the people that mostly used Pilot Bay, and more public meetings were needed.

Leigh Hawes said the walkway would dramatically reduce the space available on the foreshore for events.

Fred Greenville said spectators were so tightly packed on Pilot Bay at the Marra Sprint Triathlon yesterday morning, that he could not walk through them. If a boardwalk had been there, people using the boardwalk would have demanded right of way.

He received no assurances the council would delay a decision on the boardwalk until it had explored his idea of pumping dredged sand to restore the eroded northern half of Pilot Bay.

"Have we got the willpower to do the job once and do it properly," he said.

The argument that the width of the boardwalk was to cater for wheelchairs was dismissed by one protester who said you could fit four wheelchairs across 3m. Councillor David Stewart said the council would look at the options but it could not please everyone all the time.

Facebook page creator Colleen Spiro had no doubt most councillors favoured a boardwalk of some description.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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