[161020WCBRCDur03.JPG] [151020WCSup06.JPG] A Whanganui District Council graphic shows the issue Whanganui people have made submissions on. Graphic / supplied Laurel Stowell email@example.com
Whanganui District Council has been flooded with submissions on a potential purchase of two sections near the Durie Hill tower.
More than 120 submissions - strongly for and against - have been received by the council, which will hold a special hearing next week.
The issue is whether the council should buy sections at numbers 3 and 9 Blyth St, with three options - buy both, buy number 9 only, or buy neither.
Step Up Durie Hill asked the council in June to consider purchasing 9 Blyth St to protect the views and the feeling of openness around the Durie Hill War Memorial Tower and Durie Hill Elevator should a private buyer decide to build.
The group wants to enhance Durie Hill's "garden suburb" image. It would put a garden and seating on it at their own expense.
The tower and elevator are one of Whanganui's best tourist attractions, and 35,000 trips are made in the elevator each year.
Buying both sections would cost $500,000 but the council hasn't budgeted for it and would have to borrow the money. Maintaining them would add ongoing costs.
Submissions closed on September 30, and the council's senior policy analyst Justin Walters said they were pleased to get so many.
One, a letter of support, had 192 signatures from people in favour of council buying both sections.
Building modern homes or apartments that would obscure the memorial tower and clutter the area with driveways and washing lines would be a desecration, submitter Joy McGregor said.
"Keeping these pieces of land free from buildings will benefit all that come up the hill to take in Whanganui's beauty," Joan Quin said.
Submitter and Durie Hill resident Amee Johnson was against any purchase because public events in the Durie Hill Reserve restricted residents' access to their own properties.
They could also be noisy, another resident said.
A Whanganui East resident, Jennifer Sutherland, was among those who opposed the purchases. She said there were other things for the council to spend its money on.
Kerbside recycling and removing the lime from Whanganui water were suggested by other submitters as better ways to spend money.
Some suggested the people of Durie Hill buy the sections themselves if they wanted them.
Others said they had been on the market for years and would not make good house sites because the area was so public.
Castlecliff resident Sheree Campbell said council had enough reserves already and more houses were needed.
Gary Thompson added that rates were too high. "People are homeless and rentals are in short supply," he said.
But many others wanted the area kept as open space and wrote about about its views and importance.
Some talked up the possibilities if the land was purchased. One had a long list of suggestions, including landscape gardens, sculptures, seating and tables, a dog water station, a children's playground, field poppies near the tower and coin-operated binoculars.
The council is holding a special meeting at 9.30am on October 22, to hear from five submitters. The meeting is open to the public, and will be live-streamed on the council's Facebook page.