Far North District Council to discuss $150,000 loan to Friends of Roland's Wood Trust

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The Far North District Council will hold meeting in Kaikohe today to discuss whether to grant the Friends of Roland's Wood Trust a loan of $150,000.
The Far North District Council will hold meeting in Kaikohe today to discuss whether to grant the Friends of Roland's Wood Trust a loan of $150,000.

The Far North District Council is holding an extraordinary meeting in Kaikohe today and will discuss whether to grant the Friends of Roland's Wood Trust a loan of $150,000 as a contribution towards buying a further 5.4ha of land adjacent to the existing park.

The council turned down the proposal at the regular council meeting last month.

Chairman of the trust Simon Upperton said the trust was not given the chance to speak at the previous meeting as it was held behind closed doors.

He said it was "quite a back-flip" the council had subsequently decided to reconsider the proposal and had invited him to speak to the meeting, which would exclude the general public.

"At least this time democracy will actually play a part in the decision process," he said.

The garden area and dog park hosts 30,000 visits a year and Mr Upperton said the need for a bigger parking area to cater for visitors was "critical".

The current parking area off Inland Rd, in Kerikeri, can only take four vehicles.

An agreement to purchase the land has been drawn up and the trust is under a time constraint of eight weeks for the agreement to go unconditional.

"We will wait and see what the outcome (of the council meeting) is before we get too excited," he said.

Also being discussed at the extraordinary meeting but not open to the public, is a report on the Warawara Forest Economic Development proposal to use ratepayer money to build 2km of road access.

Te Runanga o Te Rarawa, an administrator of Warawara Forest along with Northland Regional Council, Department of Conservation and conservation group Reconnecting Northland had earlier applied to council for a $95,000 grant to develop the road.

At the July council meeting Councillor Di Maxwell described the grant process as "tenuous" when the Paihia and Districts Ratepayers Association questioned public money being given to private landowners.

- Northern Advocate

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