By George Driver
Three new footpaths will be built in Warkworth over the next year as part of a $2 million Rodney Local Board project, but ongoing costs will hamper the Board for years to come.
The Board will spend $1.5 million of the fund over the next year, which will build 1.5km of path.
In Warkworth, there will be two new footpaths built on Hill Street/Falls Road and one on Kaspar Street, adjacent to Warkworth School.
A 315-metre path will run along Hill Street and Falls Road, between Albert Road and Hudson Street and cost $394,000. It will provide pedestrian access for residents of Viv Davie-Martin Drive and the route is popular with runners and walkers as part of a fitness loop.
A 180m path will be built between 4 and 20 Hill Street, opposite Shoesmith Domain, and cost $168,000.
The Kaspar Street footpath will be 145m and run the length of the street, costing $160,000.
The Board investigated building 21 footpaths, which were prioritised based on proximity to schools, development in the area and pedestrian routes.
A new Auckland Council policy means the Board will have to pay $200,000 a year for at least 50 years to service the cost of debt and depreciation. The policy requires the Board to pay 10 per cent of the cost of certain capital project every year for the life of the asset, which is about 50 years for footpaths.
The spending was debated during a heated Transport, Planning and Infrastructure Committee meeting on July 11.
Committee deputy chair Steven Garner said the spending would end up costing the Board millions and voted against the project.
“That money could be going to our communities,” Mr Garner says. “I don’t believe anyone would want us to agree to this.”
But Board member Beth Houlbrooke said people had repeatedly told the Board that new footpaths were a high priority.
“I’m well aware of implications and it’s not a decision we come to lightly,” Ms Houlbrooke says. “But these priorities have been identified through a submission process.”
Committee chair Phelan Pirrie said the Board’s discretionary budget was forecast to increase in the future and the spending was warranted.
“I’m very comfortable with this decision because everyone wants footpaths built for safety reasons.”
Mr Pirrie says he supports Council’s new policy as it encourages local boards to be more responsible with spending by making them accountable for all of the Council costs.
“Before, we used to have local boards who would have money left in their budget at the end of the year and spend it on low-priority projects and rates were continually going up to service the ongoing operational costs. This new policy means they will have to think hard about the projects they fund.”
The project passed by two votes, with James Colville and Mr Garner voting against it and John McLean abstaining.
The remaining $500,000 of the budget will be spent by the next Local Board, which will be elected in October.