The controversial Pilot Bay boardwalk is going ahead after a compromise was reached.
The solution means the main grass area used for family picnics will be largely protected.
Tauranga City Council voted 8-3 yesterday to put the boardwalk as close to the side of the road as practical, from the toilets to the Salisbury Wharf carpark - nearly half the length of Pilot Bay.
It failed to satisfy some boardwalk opponents who wanted the decision postponed until the eroded sections of Pilot Bay had been restored using dredgings from the harbour shipping channels.
Their compromise was to only have a boardwalk on the dusty and narrow northern half to the boat ramp.
But councillors decided to minimise the impact on the southern section as much as possible by putting the path between the norfolk pines and the side of the road, even though council staff felt it would not allow walkers the same beautiful vista as putting it closer to the beach.
Councillors Murray Guy, Bill Grainger and Catherine Stewart voted against a boardwalk along the entire length of Pilot Bay, with Cr Stewart saying a lot of the councillors had "secret squirrel" meetings on the issue.
Meeting chairman Bill Faulkner asked her to withdraw the remark, saying it did not happen and he found it offensive.
At first she refused to withdraw the remark, saying meetings were held without the knowledge of other elected members. Mayor Stuart Crosby said meetings like this happened all the time and her remark was "nothing more than a cheap shot". Cr Stewart agreed to withdraw her "secret squirrel" remark.
Staff will negotiate with the Port of Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council so the restoration of Pilot Bay's foreshore using dredgings can take place during the boardwalk's construction.
It will need a change to the consent for using the dredgings. Under the current consent, the next time dredgings can be deposited along Pilot Bay is next March. The council also agreed to cover the cost of building a new shed for the waka ama club alongside where the waka were currently drawn up on the foreshore.
Mr Crosby agreed with criticism that the council should have consulted with the public on its preferred design for the boardwalk before it went out to tender.
Cr Larry Baldock said he believed the best plan was to put the boardwalk over towards the edge of the grass and to use the sand excavated for its construction to restore the foreshore along the beach line, so that the lost grass was replaced. But he said this plan was a step too far and a bit risky.
The alternative addressed the issue of maintaining as much grass as possible.
Cr David Stewart said the compromise did not give walkers as good an experience as they could, but he ended up supporting the amendment Cr Tony Christiansen put up.
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