After 99 enthusiastic submissions Whanganui District councillors have narrowly agreed to buy two sections near the Durie Hill tower, and extend that reserve.
The council will purchase number 3 and 9 Blyth St in order to protect the public space and views in the area.
Five submitters were heard at a special council meeting on October 22. After that councillors debated whether to purchase. They were unanimous on agreeing in principle to buy No 9.
When it came to buying No 3 only six were in favour - Charlie Anderson, Helen Craig, James Barron, Jenny Duncan, Hadleigh Reid and Alan Taylor. Five - Philippa Baker-Hogan, Rob Vinsen, Brent Crossan, Graeme Young and Josh Chandulal-Mackay - voted against it.
Councillor Kate Joblin was on leave of absence and Mayor Hamish McDouall didn't use his casting vote, so the option to buy No 3 was narrowly won.
But the purchases will only be made if satisfactory terms of sale can be agreed with the vendor. Councillors then excluded the public while they talked price, citing commercial sensitivity.
Craig was strongly in favour of buying both sections. She said the elevator was one of two in the world and more and more people would come to see the view.
She wanted No 3 included so the turning circle at the reserve could be enlarged to allow buses to get around in one sweep. That section could be sold again if unneeded, perhaps with a covenant to prevent intrusive building.
The council has no plan for the reserve as a whole, she said, but proper planning will be possible if No 3 is available.
The matter came to the council table in June when Step Up Durie Hill asked council to purchase No 9 which was on the market.
No 9 was the only section the group asked for, Chandulal-Mackay said.
He wanted the council to buy it to support Step Up Durie Hill aspirations.
Several councillors, including Crossan, said council should sell less-used reserves to pay for the purchases. There are about 200 reserves, council property manager Leighton Toy said, but they can only be sold after a public consultation process.
For Reid, buying No 9 is a "no-brainer". No 3 is sloping and less valuable, and should only be bought if the terms of sale are satisfactory, he said.
Acquiring more reserve land is not high on the council's list of priorities, Duncan said, and submitters pointed that out. Many thought rubbish and recycling services should be a higher priority.
"There are more compelling things to put money into. The onus is on councillors and staff to find ways to fund these purchases," Duncan said.
Step Up Durie Hill members are really excited about the possible purchases, spokeswoman Sue Morgan said
She was impressed by some of the "clear and intelligent" submissions.
"It's been quite a long process for everybody, the owner as well, who has been extremely patient. We just appreciate everybody's efforts in this."
The result is "a great win for the city", she said.
Step Up Durie Hill is keen to work with the council on additions to the reserve. It can raise funds for gardens and seating, and is offering to maintain any gardens.
"We have done that with the other seven gardens up there," Morgan said.
Because the group knew the council had no budget, it did not ask for the purchase of No 3 Blyth St as well as No 9. However many submitters wanted both purchased.
"If they do buy both, that's fantastic," Morgan said.