Hastings District Council will begin a process to close off an alleyway which has become a hotbed for drug dealing near two schools - but exactly how it will be closed remains a mystery.
It comes as one councillor has called for an investigation to identify all similar alleyways in the region which have become unsafe.
The council met on Thursday afternoon and voted to begin a process to permanently close off a 90m-long alleyway between Frederick St West and Manuka St in Mahora.
It is strewn with litter and neighbouring residents have reported ongoing issues with crime for more than 30 years in the lane including violence, drug dealing, and vandalism.
The alleyway is a short distance from St Mary's Catholic Primary School and Mahora Primary School. The council heard these type of laneways were initially designed to help children walk to school.
The closure process includes a period of community feedback before council makes a final decision.
However, exactly how it will be closed off raised more questions than answers among councillors.
Council strategic transport engineer Eynon Phillips said if the laneway was to be closed it would likely be sold to neighbouring residents at a yet to be determined price - rather than gifted to them - then it would be up to them to do "as they see fit".
"Once we have handed it over to the private owner then it is up to them to close it.
"It is private land [at that stage] and up to the owner to close it as they see fit."
He said if council closed off both ends of the walkway it would be at risk of becoming a dumping site, and he claimed it would be better dealt with by the residents themselves.
Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said more work would have to be done on the process.
"It is one thing for us to say, 'yes, we need to close this space that is not suitable to the community anymore', but actually how are we going to make sure that happens?
"We are going to have to look at this and figure out a strategy and way forward because there are a number of communities that are putting up with these old alleyways."
One resident Evan Robson, who lives next to the alleyway in Mahora, told Hawke's Bay Today he would like to the see the alleyway converted into green space with trees and plants and foot traffic blocked off.
He said he did not think residents should be made to pay for the land.
Councillor Geraldine Travers said an investigation could be held to identify similar unsafe alleyways across the region. Council reported a list of alleyways was being worked on.