A new metal railing to allow for cyclists across Auckland's Orakei Basin is upsetting locals who say it ruins the natural environment of the popular inner-city lagoon.
Residents and local politicians want to keep the existing 1.2m-high wooden balustrade railing and work to stop on a 1.4m-high metal railing.
The boardwalk has exceptionally beautiful natural water and bush views, says Orakei Basin Protection Group member Roy Champtaloup, who says the vista must not being ruined or compromised by "bureaucratic nonsense".
Our local community is livid with this extraordinary waste of our money
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He is referring to a $4.9 million project to widen the Orakei Basin boardwalk from 2.7m to 4.5m as part of a new Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive shared path for cyclists and pedestrians.
The uproar has been taken up by the Orakei Local Board, which is calling on Auckland Transport and the New Zealand Transport Agency to stop work pending further consultation with the board.
NZTA regional relationships manager Steve Mutton said talks would be held with the board tomorrow to discuss its concerns. An AT spokesman said while it was a joint AT-NZTA project, NZTA was managing the contract and any changes were with it.
Speaking today from London, Champtaloup told the Herald the Orakei Basin Protection Group assumed the widening project would retain the rustic wooden railing.
"Our local community is livid with this extraordinary waste of our money ... a hideous new 1.4m metal 'prison cell' that looks ridiculous in this environment and obstructs the view," he said.
Champtaloup sent the Herald photographs of a shared cycleway and walkway along the Shoreditch canal in London without any fencing.
"It's on the water's edge. There is no 1.4m galvanised metal balustrade to ruin this cool natural waterway. Sanity and enjoyment prevail," he said.
Local resident Amanda Wilkinson, who walks daily around the basin, said the aesthetics of the metal railing was ridiculous and a waste of money.
She shared Champtaloup's view it would be exceptionally unlikely for a cyclist to heave themselves over a 1.4m-high railing.
Meanwhile, Ōrakei Local Board chairman Kit Parkinson has given an assurance that links will be created along the shared path for children from Meadowbank to bike or walk to Selwyn College and St Thomas's School in Kohimarama.
Ellerslie resident Matt Hancock, who has children at both schools, raised the alarm after he received an email from the NZTA saying that, although John Rymer Place near the two schools would be used for access while building the path, it "won't be directly connected to the shared path as part of the project".
Selwyn College principal Sheryll Ofner said she was alarmed at the news because the growing number of students travelling to the college from Meadowbank by bus or car was causing "huge congestion".
But Parkinson said links from the new path to John Rymer Place, Gowing Drive, Tahapa Crescent, Kepa Bush and potentially a direct link to Selwyn College were the board's "highest priority for this next year's plan".
"Children from the whole of Meadowbank have to go to Selwyn College and St Thomas's over the top by road. That's 3000 car journeys a week," he said.
"We can hopefully do walking school buses over the path which is only 300 to 400 metres, taking 3000 cars off the road."
He said the local board had allocated more than $2 million for the links and the main Auckland Council had committed a further $6m for a bridge or, more likely, an underpass under the railway from Gowing Drive to the two schools.
- Additional reporting Simon Collins