The Bay of Islands Vintage Railway Trust has revealed its plans for a railway station in Opua's Colenso Triangle to residents of Marina Rise, Beaufort and Ross streets.
Co-hosted by Love Opua and the trust, the aim was to obtain feedback from those in the immediate vicinity of the site before further work goes into the plans, which will then be presented to a meeting of the whole Opua community for consideration and comment prior to resource consent applications.
Frank Leadley, convenor of the Opua Railway Station Planning Committee, outlined the vision, emphasising the project was part of the full restoration of the North Island's first railway, with all its historical and cultural importance, together with a wetland area as an added attraction. He also emphasised how the proposal would provide "massive" economic and recreational benefits.
These benefits, and the means to achieve them, were detailed by a number of speakers including trust chairman Johnson Davis, who outlined the trust's proposal, now under consideration by the Far North District Council, for the development of a separate, permanent cycleway within the railway corridor between Kawakawa and Opua.
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Mayor John Carter and PM John Key had also been in discussions over that idea.
Pip Bolton, a design engineer formerly with Fraser Thomas but now with her own company Avail Pacific, outlined plans for the new station. A member of the station committee, who is providing her professional services free, noted design features including a "versatile" 150-seat cafe, a small bar, kitchen, toilets, facilities for the cycleway, retail outlets, a fireplace and small lounge.
She stressed the building needed to be able to cater not only for train enthusiasts, but also for weddings and conferencesthat would take advantage of the opportunity to ride in a vintage steam train.
Far North Holdings general manager Chris Galbraith explained the requirements for a new entry off SH11 to provide greater safety for turning vehicles, including tour coaches, the location of a new jetty to cater for the steam boat Minerva to link with the steam train, and the necessary reclamation work and infrastructure to enable the oyster farmers to land their stocks.
Mike Bradshaw, former operations manager and still a Trust member, explained the requirements for the train to operate within the station grounds.
The opportunity for discussion and questions had proved very positive, Mr Leadley said, leaving all present satisfied the proposals would be a great development.
The committee was now attending to work on matters arising from the meeting and would make a presentation for the Opua community.