The on-again off-again project to build a walkway linking Memorial Park with Tauranga's city centre is a step closer to reality.
An engineering report on the feasibility of building the 900 metre walkway and cycleway was considered by the council's city transformation committee meeting today.
It resulted in the committee agreeing to take the next step of consulting with the community - a $40,000 process which had previously led to a hostile reaction from residents whose properties border the proposed path. They had security and beachfront access concerns.
Only four councillors were at the committee meeting and the final decision on the project will be made by the full council later this month.
Six engineering options were examined in the report, with all except the boardwalk needing at least three metres of backfill reclamation along the shoreline.
The boardwalk option triggered the fewest number of resource consents, needing four consents compared with six to eight consents for the other options.
On the vexed issue of neighbours with riparian access rights to the harbour, legal advice obtained in 2007 from Simpson Grierson said it was possible to construct a walkway without impeding riparian rights.
Simpson Grierson said the council could potentially seek a declaratory judgement from the court to settle any riparian rights and prevent injunctions from residents.
''Compensation for property owners affected is likely to be required.''
Simpson Grierson said the council could use its compulsory powers to acquire an esplanade reserve where the boundaries of properties were at the high tide mark.
Riparian rights issues would need to be revisited once further assessments determined the council's preferred engineering option for the walkway, the report said.
City centre manager James Woodward told the meeting that riparian rights issues could be worked through with property owners to provide access to the water via boat ramps, stairs or other engineering options.
Woodward said community feedback would help inform the council on whether to proceed to the design and construction phase.
''The initial focus of the engagement would be with iwi and adjacent landowners, then public engagement would commence.''
He said the project was not in the council's 2018-28 long-term plan, however there were a range of potential funding sources that could be utilised for the walkway.
These included the streetscape investment fund, the cycleway fund and potentially money from the NZ Transport Agency if it was recognised as a commuter link.
Memorial Park to The Strand walkway
2007: Original design.
2008-10: Resource consent granted and then withdrawn on appeal.
June 5, 2015: Council allocates $30,000 to investigate consenting issues.
June 8, 2015: Walkway joins list of potential projects for $8m downtown fund.
November 2015: Funding deferred for consideration in 2018-28 Long Term Plan.
June, 2017: Council puts $30,000 into 2017-18 Annual Plan.