Options for the future of Whangamomona Road were under discussion at the recent Stratford District Council Policy and Services Committee meeting.
Councillors had four options for the future of the road. The Council stopped maintenance on the road over 77 years ago.
For the past 20 years, maintenance has been undertaken by the Whangamomona Road Action Group (WRAG).
Roading asset manager Steve Bowden described the subject as being an "old chestnut," saying it had been under discussion for years.
"Every time we have a meeting in Whangamomona one of the questions asked is what is happening with the road."
The four options ranged from doing nothing to removing the road' s legal status. The other two options were to introduce a bylaw restricting the use of the road to certain activities, or for Council to take over maintenance to bring it up to and maintain a good standard.
Steve advised councillors that doing nothing wasn't legally advised. When he attended the WRAG annual general meeting, he had asked if many of the road users helped the group financially.
"I asked the group if there were external users there that use the road for recreational purposes had put in money, and the answer was no."
This included members of the 4x4 national club and representatives of Forgotten World Adventures, Steve said, as well as a local tramping business which takes people walking along the route.
In response to a question asked by Councillor Grant Boyde, Steve said if the bylaw option was to be chosen, nothing would be in place until 2021.
"It really comes down to having the funding for the road. If we were to go down the bylaw route there's a lot of groundwork to be done between now and 2021, including engagement with stakeholders and community consultation."
Councillor Rick Coplestone said he had talked to Whangamomona residents about the road.
"Someone told me they took a 70-year-old man down there. He certainly couldn't walk or use a pushbike. He was glad he could go on the back of a motorbike and see it."
Councillor Coplestone said he had also spoken to 4x4 club members and felt stopping the 4x4 clubs using the road would hurt Whangamomona's economy.
"They do spend a lot of money when they come to Whanga and they do make a point of coming to things during the year at Whanga so to turf them out you'd be cutting the throat of Whanga a bit."
Councillor John Sandford asked how a bylaw could be policed.
"By the time someone from Stratford gets out there to find someone who is ripping up the road, I doubt they will still be there."
"Any enforcement of the bylaw would be complaints based, rather than enforced by an officer on the day,"Chief Executive Sven Hanne said. "Given the distance to Stratford, this would simply not be practical."
Councillor Peter Dalziel asked if the road would be eligible for an NZTA subsidy.
"We would have to put a business case together to NZTA to demonstrate that the revenue generated from using the road, both tourism and farming, is greater than the costs to upgrade the road," Steve said.
"Spending money on that road just for people to have a play, we can't justify that," Councillor Dalziel said, speaking in favour of the bylaw option.
Mayor Neil Volzke also favoured the bylaw option.
"When you look at the fit for purpose point of view, who is likely to use the road are trampers, horse trekkers and farmers. It's pretty minimalistic in what they need and all can be achieved in through a bylaw.
"The benefit of a bylaw is you could have a time and date where you can turn round and say certain people can use the road."
The councillors voted unanimously for bylaws to be put in place for the road.
■ Once a draft bylaw has been written, it will be put out for public consultation.