Path offer dilemma for council

By Laurilee McMichael

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A Taupo couple has offered to fund an extension of the pathway along the Five Mile Bay lakeshore reserve - but there's a catch. Photo / Laurilee McMichael
A Taupo couple has offered to fund an extension of the pathway along the Five Mile Bay lakeshore reserve - but there's a catch. Photo / Laurilee McMichael

Just how closely should you look a gift horse in the mouth?

Or, to put it another way, if somebody offered to buy you something you couldn't afford to buy yourself with no strings attached, would you take it? Or would you sigh regretfully, say you had to consult with interested parties and lose it forever?

That's the decision facing Taupo district councillors next Tuesday when they have to consider whether or not to accept a Taupo couple's offer to fund a 1.7km stretch of lakefront walkway at Five Mile Bay.

Matt and Heather Purvis, the former owners of Total Transport, are offering about $200,000 to the council to enable the new lakefront footpath from Wharewaka to Five Mile Bay to be extended along the lakefront to the end of the Five Mile Bay settlement. They will pay for the path to be built and once completed, it will be owned and maintained by the council. But there's a catch - the council must decide on Tuesday, or the offer will be withdrawn.

That could bring council into conflict with its Significance Policy which says that when council is considering whether a matter should come under its policy, it has to be guided by, among other things, "the parties that are likely to be particularly affected by or interested in the issue, proposal, decision or other matter".

Mr Purvis says the idea of funding a lakefront walkway at Five Mile Bay came to him during a conversation with Mayor Rick Cooper who suggested residents could contribute to reserve developments such as providing seating and picnic tables. During a subsequent conversation, councillor Keith Crate suggested if council had the money, extending the walkway along Five Mile Bay would be a significant community asset.

The Purvises are aware government and council funding is tight but have seen the success of the existing path and the amount of use it's already having from walkers, cyclists, and people with scooters and pushchairs.

They're keen to see it extended so more people can enjoy it and say setting a deadline of September 24 for the council decision means the extension could be completed by Christmas.

The couple would pay for it to be built to the same specifications as the new footpath from Wharewaka to Five Mile Bay, and other Five Mile Bay residents have offered to contribute to other reserve assets such as picnic tables and seating.

They say it is a natural extension of the cycleway planned to proceed beyond the Five Mile Bay Reserve through to Waitahanui, and then on via the old main SH1 route to Hatepe as part of the Government's national cycleway project.

Matt said Total Transport benefited from the support of Taupo people while it was operating and this was about giving back. But it's a one-time offer.

"It's giving the community something that's going to be used by so many people," adds Heather, who says she likes seeing people out using the existing walkway and would love to see it extended.

"People will be enjoying it for years and years and years to come."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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