Mayor breaks deadlock for sale

By John Maslin

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The casting vote of Wanganui's mayor has opened the way for residential development of a Wanganui District Council reserve that has been the centre of debate for decades.

With the vote tied six-all, Mayor Annette Main used her casting vote to pave the way for the subdivision of the Montgomery Rd reserve on the corner of Great North Rd and Montgomery Rd.

In fact, Ms Main used her casting vote twice at Monday's council meeting to decide the outcome of property sales.

The council's infrastructure and property committee debated a raft of properties and reserves last week, figuring out what would be put up for sale and what would be retained.

At that meeting councillors recommended - by a single vote - to retain the reserve, long regarded as prime real estate.

Voting to sell were the mayor and councillors Philippa Baker-Hogan, Nicki Higgie, Rob Vinsen, Ray Stevens and Clive Solomon.

Councillors wanting to maintain reserve status were Sue Westwood, Allan Anderson, Randhir Dahya, Jack Bullock, Hamish McDouall and Rangi Wills (Michael Laws had tendered his apology to the meeting).

Mr McDouall, a staunch advocate for retaining the reserve, argued the Montgomery Rd green space was a "business card for the city" for travellers arriving from the west on SH3.

He said it was "an important little piece of land" and selling it was short-sighted.

"If it was only the bottom area of the reserve being developed, I wouldn't have a problem," he said.

Mr Anderson and Mr Wills also favoured selling the bottom side of the land while retaining the top part as reserve.

Mr Wills said developing the top side, nearest the corner, would compromise the views.

But Mr Vinsen said the only activity on the land was the grazing of a couple of horses.

"No one can tell me it's a good advertisement for Wanganui," he said. "We have a responsibility to reduce debt and, while not all those properties we have earmarked for sale will be sold, this one will certainly realise at least $400,000 to $500,000 for the city."

Mrs Baker-Hogan said council had to make hard decisions.

With the vote deadlocked it was decided by the mayor's casting vote.

Last week's committee had voted to sell Richmond Park, which sits between Parkdale Dr and Monowai Pl in Aramoho, by the slimmest of margins - six votes to five.

At Monday's meeting the vote was tied six apiece and again Ms Main's casting vote sealed the sale process.

- WANGANUI CHRONICLE

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