A group of east Auckland residents have banded together to form a protest group to fight council plans to sell four reserves, but the issue could have wider ramifications for the city's green spaces.
The residents, who live in Golflands and Sunnyhills, formed Preserve Our Reserve in November in a bid to stop the planned asset sales.
The Howick Local Board voted in late 2020 to retain the properties, but Auckland Council's finance and performance committee overrode the decision and voted to put them up for sale as part of its 10-year Recovery Budget.
The four reserves are at 111R Golfland Drive, Howick; 9R Fortyfoot Lane, Sunnyhills; 76R Aberfeldy Avenue, Highland Park; and 2R Ti Rakau Drive, Pakuranga.
Under the Reserves Act, the council will have to consult with the Department of Conservation (DoC) about the proposed sales and conduct a public notification process, before seeking a final sign-off from the Government department.
Sunnyhills resident Frank Lombard said he is annoyed the council wants to proceed with the sales.
"We are taking this to heart. We want to bring this to the attention of other Aucklanders. It's not just happening here, it's happening all over Auckland," Lombard said.
"It's 20 reserves and parks this year, but if there's a budget problem next year what's going to happen then? Once you sell reserves like this they are lost forever.
"I'm not saying we can save all the reserves, and we can't speak for others. But there's these four reserves in our area right now that we want to save."
His thoughts are shared by John Mooney. He lives next to Golflands Park, which the council is looking at selling.
The Preserve Our Reserve member said with more intensive development planned in the area, such green spaces are more important than ever.
"We don't want the council to sell more reserves across Auckland and that's why we want to keep up the pressure."
He said the group has received a positive response from the community. It has forwarded a petition against the planned sales to the council.
The council's Recovery Budget went out for public consultation on Monday. In November it announced that the $450 million hit to revenue from Covid-19 that was projected last year could snowball to nearly $1 billion by 2024.
It is expected to make $270m in cost savings over the next three years and sell $210m worth of surplus property to help plug a revenue hole caused by Covid-19.
Council's programme lead Ross Chirnside said it has been in contact with the Department of Conservation about the property sales and will start a public notification process soon.
"This is one of a number of steps over the coming months to ready the sites for sale," he said.
"The sites approved for sale were identified as not being required to deliver current and future parks and open space outcomes and it is proposed that the land may be sold to an adjoining owner or on the open market."
Chirnside said anyone who wants to object to the sale of the 20 reserves can do so in writing to council chief executive Jim Stabback by 5pm on March 31.