Concrete jungle angers Dannevirke avenue residents waiting for promised trees

By Christine McKay -
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Dannevirke's Victoria Ave, looking towards the roundabout on Queen and Allardice streets. Locals yearn for a greener look.
Dannevirke's Victoria Ave, looking towards the roundabout on Queen and Allardice streets. Locals yearn for a greener look.

When chainsaws began roaring in a Dannevirke street in June 2013, the uproar of angry residents almost drowned them out.

Residents in Victoria Ave were furious their beautiful tree-lined street was being reduced to a concrete jungle, as the London plane trees were felled because of claims of rot.

Contractor Ernie Christison felling London plane trees in June 2013. Photo / Christine McKay
Contractor Ernie Christison felling London plane trees in June 2013. Photo / Christine McKay

And four years on, it remains that way, despite reassurances the avenue would be replanted, recreating the character and ambiance of the area.

"Now the street appearance is boring, with wide-open asphalt with no green space," Victoria Ave resident Debbie Webster told recipients of her recent letter drop.

The new landscaping in Woodville's Ormond St is an option Debbie Webster would like to see repeated in Dannevirke's Victoria Ave. Photo / Christine McKay
The new landscaping in Woodville's Ormond St is an option Debbie Webster would like to see repeated in Dannevirke's Victoria Ave. Photo / Christine McKay

"It can hardly be called an avenue any more."

And speed data confirms residents' fears there has been an increase in the speed of traffic on the once glorious avenue.

Speed data figures from October 2013, acquired by Debbie, the road safety co-ordinator at Horizons Regional Council, shows after the trees were removed, 325 motorists were clocked travelling at 60-70km/h in the 50km/h zone, with four clocked at 80-90km/h.

In September 2007, before the trees were removed, just one vehicle was identified as travelling between 60-70km/h.

Debbie said she believed the higher speeds could also be a factor in some of the crashes at the Victoria Ave/Queen St and Allardice St, roundabout.

Dannevirke Community Board member Pat Walshe talked to some of the residents and said they didn't want the trees.

"If people want replacement trees there should be another survey," he said.

Debbie said after her letter drop regarding the future streetscape and the lack of follow-up by the community board and district council on the redevelopment, 14 people have rung her also concerned about the lack of action.

"I realise replacement trees or gardens won't please everyone, but it's important this is included in the Tararua District Council's long-term plan.

"I believe a concept similar to that in Woodville's Ormond St would work to beautify the avenue and slow traffic."

Victoria Ave resident Liz Edwards said big promises were made when the trees were taken out, but nothing had happened.

"It's been a broken promise and we feel a bit fobbed off," she said.

"We've met a blank wall up until now, but Debbie has done a great job with her letter drop.

"Yes, we are well aware there is a pot of money which has to be shared around, but we want to make sure this issue is on the council's long-term plan and promises adhered to."

In December 2013, 120 letters and survey papers were delivered to residents and ratepayers in Victoria Ave, King, Edward and Cole streets, with 39 responses, 21 of those from Victoria Ave, and community board member Terry Hynes said it was important the board was seen to be honouring its commitments to residents in the area.

Tararua District Council governance manager Richard Taylor conceded, "trees are quite a controversial issue".

But Mr Taylor said the community board had to decide what to do going forward.

"You have the survey information [from December 2013] and you need to drive this as a community board," he said.

"The first thing the district council will ask is 'what are you looking at?'"

The community board agreed to consider the options for landscaping in Victoria Ave, in consultation with residents.

A letter will be sent to Debbie Webster asking for preferred options to be given to the community board, which will also ask council to consider landscaping in its 2018-28 long-term plan.

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